Just one year after one of the largest influxes of illegal immigrants to cross the U.S.-Mexico border, the Obama administration has removed regulations on immigrants currently in the United States.
As of right now, illegal immigrants who successfully entered the United States are being placed in detention centers located in Texas and Pennsylvania. However, United States Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced changes to the status quo on June 24, specifically affecting migrant women and children.
According to Johnson, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will release families “who are successful in stating a case of credible or reasonable fear of persecution in their home countries.” Also, the release of the immigrants will be attached to a bond “or other condition of release,” Johnson continued.
Johnson also added that future detention practices will be “short-term”, just long enough for the federal government to collect information from the migrants and to explain the rights to those held.
“I have reached the conclusion that we must make substantial changes in our detention practices with respect to families with children. In short, once a family has established eligibility for asylum or other relief under our laws, long-term detention is an inefficient use of our resources and should be discontinued,” Johnson explained.
According to The Hill, the 92 percent surge in illegal immigrants last summer cost the United States $1.4 billion in additional funding. Many members of Congress blamed the Obama administration’s weak enforcement of immigration law and the implementation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals legislation that President Barack Obama created via an executive order in 2012.
Johnson said that government agencies would interview families “within a reasonable time frame,” although he did not expand on that point, International Business Times reported.
Some Republican members of Congress were skeptical over the change, saying the Obama administration’s overhaul immigration policy has left many illegal immigrants unaccounted for in the United States.
“By refusing to detain unlawful immigrants until their claims are proven legitimate, the Obama administration is practically guaranteeing that they will disappear into our communities and never be removed from the United States,” Virginia Rep. Bob Goodlatte said of the new measure.
“The best way to deter illegal immigration is to enforce our laws in the interior of the United States and detain those who illegally cross our borders while their cases are pending,” he added.