Reports that the Biden administration is considering reintroducing immigrant family detention at the southern border have sparked outrage from immigration activists, but former Trump administration officials are skeptical about how helpful such policy initiatives from the Biden administration would be if implemented.
“It’s just 180 degrees away from their strategy. From day one, their strategy has been anti-detention,” former acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan told Fox News Digital. “They see it as inhumane and not something they support. So the fact that there’s talk of detaining families again, I’m very skeptical.”
Many stores have been mentioned Monday that the administration is considering reviving the detention of immigrant families crossing the border illegally.
Such a move would mark a major reversal for the administration, which ended the practice in 2021 and instead released immigrant family units inside the US with notices to appear in court or report to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
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A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement that “no decisions have been made as we prepare to lift the Title 42 public health mandate.”
The spokesman was referring to the May 11 suspension of Title 42, a Trump-era order enacted at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic that allows for the expedited deportation of immigrants at the southern border for public health reasons. Officials have predicted an additional surge at the border when the order is lifted, and the administration has unveiled a number of measures to deal with such a change.
The report sparked outrage from immigration activists and some Democrats who were horrified at the idea of a possible return to the practice they see as cruel and inhumane.
But Stephen Miller, who served as a senior adviser in the Trump White House and advocated for tougher policies on illegal immigration, dismissed the reports.
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“Every decision the administration has made is for the sole purpose of bringing more illegal immigrants into the United States as quickly as possible,” he said. “If the administration had any real desire to reduce illegal immigration, instead of continually increasing it, it would reimplement every Trump policy, starting with Safe Thirds and Remain in Mexico.”
Thomas Homan, who served at the highest levels of ICE in both the Obama and Trump administrations, told Fox News Digital he believes the move is for show. Homan added that unless changes are made to court-imposed restrictions that now limit family detention to just 20 days, meaning families are unlikely to have their asylum cases heard in that time, it is unlikely to make much of a difference .
“I think the election is coming up. I think it’s all for election purposes. I think it’s all politics,” he said. “Unless we can hold them long enough to see a judge, that has little effect on border security.”
Homan said that during the Obama administration and before the 20-day limit was imposed, border numbers dropped because officials were able to expedite cases and quickly deport immigrants. Without a new stricter time frame being changed, the cases are unlikely to be heard in that time frame.
Homan added that time in the family accommodation centers will allow the migrants to receive medical treatment and officials can verify whether a child belongs to a family unit or is being trafficked.
“It gives us time to verify their addresses, verify where they’re going, verify who they’re going to be living with. We can make sure we send out the notifications [to appear] in the right house, give us time to verify their family groups. It gives us time to make sure they’re healthy, that they’re not carrying disease into the communities,” Homan said. “But if they don’t have judges to expedite the hearings, it’s not going to have a huge impact on border security. “
He also disputed claims by activists that detention was harsh, noting that the centers had features such as Zumba classes and movie screenings, as well as medical care that immigrants sometimes lacked.
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“Many of the childhood vaccines that these children received, they received from us. Many of them saw a dentist for the first time in their life at these facilities. Or a doctor,” he said. “These families are going through a very difficult journey in this country and we can take care of the medical needs … and have child psychologists there to talk about some of the things that these children may have seen during that journey or , you know, leaving the country and coming to a new country. It was very expensive, but it served a great purpose, I thought.”
Morgan was also doubtful that asylum hearings would be expedited by a judge at the border, although he proposed a new asylum rule that allows asylum officers to hear cases instead of the judges who would be used to process them through what he said would be “rubber stamp.”
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“If that’s not the goal, their goal is just to mitigate the bad political outlook of the local NGOs and the border that’s being flooded, and they’re going to push them to these family-residential centers that are in other areas of the border. where they’re going to give them a transition period before they process them and release them,” Morgan said.
He also suggested the new reports could be a sign of political pressure facing the Biden administration over a border crisis that is now deep into its third year and a constant thorn in its side. Although the administration claims that the recent measures it introduced are working.
“I think it’s also an indication of how they too can no longer pretend that what’s happening under their leadership isn’t a complete colossal failure,” Morgan said.