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Even the Government’s

Even the Government’s own advisory committee wants to end family detention By Lindsay M. Harris Calls to end the detention of immigrant children and their mothers seeking protection in the United States are not new. What is new is that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Advisory Committee on Family Residential Centers, created by DHS itself, has now added its voice to the chorus calling for an end to family detention. On June 24, 2015, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson announced the establishment of the DHS Committee, known as the ACFRC (“the Committee”), which was created to advise Secretary Johnson and ICE Director Sarah Saldaña on the family detention centers. The Committee, comprised of subject matter experts with a wide range of expertise, conducted visits to all three family detention centers currently operating in Pennsylvania (Berks County) and Texas (Dilley and Karnes City) and spent countless hours analyzing the practice of family detention prior to reaching the conclusions outlined in its lengthy September 30, 2016 draft report. DHS tasked the Committee in March 2016 with developing recommendations for best practices at family detention centers, including in the areas of: education, language, intake and out-processing procedures, medical care, and access to legal counsel. In response to these tasks, the Committee requested information and documents from ICE, some of which ICE deemed “beyond the Committee’s scope.” Nonetheless, the Committee issued a thorough and well-researched draft report last week, demonstrating their comprehensive understanding of the problematic elements of family detention. Today, by a unanimous vote, the Committee voted to approve the report with some additional operational improvements and procedural protections for detainees. The report will be officially submitted to DHS on October 14, at which time it will be made publicly available. First and foremost, the Committee recommends that DHS adopt a presumption that “detention is generally neither appropriate nor necessary for families” and “never in the best interest of children.” The Committee proceeded to issue a series of detailed recommendations, drawing on the public documents filed in the ongo- 28 ing Flores litigation, which seeks to hold the Government accountable to the commitments it made under the 1997 Flores Settlement that outlines the required treatment for children in detention and set a maximum period of 3-5 days during which children may be held. The Committee’s Report speaks authoritatively about ICE’s misguided use of civil detention, recognizing that management of family detention centers is currently “improperly, premised upon criminal justice models rather than civil justice requirements or needs.” Emphasizing that detention cannot be used to deter migration, to punish, or to hold people indefinitely, the Committee highlighted the plight of the mothers and children detained in Berks County, PA, some of whom have now been detained more than a year. Indeed, this week 17 Senators wrote to DHS Secretary Johnson, calling the decision to hold asylumseeking children and their mothers at Berks in prolonged detention “unconscionable.” In making their recommendations, the Committee relied on various re- More on page 49

How the Vice Presidential candidates responded to immigration issues at the debate By Eric Gibble During the recent vice presidential debate, candidates U.S. Senator Tim Kaine and Indiana Governor Mike Pence engaged in a heated exchange on immigration. Kaine reiterated his running mate Hillary Clinton’s stated policy positions, while Pence attempted to soften Donald Trump’s many radical anti-immigrant statements. Debate moderator Elaine Quijano turned to immigration by noting that Trump has made repeated remarks that immigrants are dangerous – although the facts show that immigrants are less likely to be criminals and immigration is associated with lower crime rates and safer communities. She asked Pence, “what would you tell the millions of undocumented immigrants who have not committed violent crimes?” Pence, like Trump, favors an enforcement-first approach to immigration reform. He stated that their first order of business would be to begin deportations to “make our country safer, then, we will deal with those that remain.” Later, Pence elaborated that immigration reform “begins Photos Courtesy of Gage Skidmore and iprimages with border security” and that they would go beyond building a massive border wall, which experts have noted would be economically devastating, and secure the border “beneath the ground and in the air.” However, this enforcement-first policy has already been the law of the land for decades. Since the last major overhaul of the U.S. immigration system in 1986, the federal government has spent an estimated $186.8 billion on immigration enforcement. Meanwhile border apprehensions, the most commonly used metric to look at the flow of undocumented immigrants crossing the border, are at 40 year lows. Under the Obama administration alone, more than 2.5 million immigrants have already been deported. Additionally, Pence said that millions of Americans “believe that we 29 can end illegal immigration once and for all.” Yet the reality is most of the American public remains committed to practical immigration solutions. 72 percent of Americans say undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States should be allowed to stay. When Kaine addressed immigration measures, he focused instead on the importance of keeping families together and a path to citizenship: “I want a bipartisan reform that will keep families together; second, that will help focus enforcement efforts on those were violent; third, that will do more border control; and fourth, write a path to citizenship for those who play by the rules and take criminal background checks.” As the topic turned to refugees, Kaine underscored that a Clinton administration “will do immigration enforcement and vet refugees based on whether they are dangerous or not, not discriminating based on which country you are from.” He did not elaborate on whether any changes would be made to how refugees are currently vetted, given the United States already has robust systems in

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