Reports that the Biden administration is considering reinstating the detention of migrant families at the southern border sparked outrage from immigration activists, but former Trump administration officials are skeptical about the usefulness of such Biden administration policy initiatives if implemented.
“It’s only 180 degrees from what their strategy has been. Since day one, their strategy has been the antithesis of detention,” former acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan told Fox News Digital. “They see that as inhumane and not something they support. So the fact that there’s going to be families locked up again, I’m very skeptical about that.”
Several media reported on Monday that the government is considering reviving the detention of migrant families who illegally cross the border.
Such a move would mark a major turnaround for the government, which ended the practice in 2021 and instead released migrant family units into the U.S. interior with notices to appear in court or report to an Immigration Office. and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office.
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Venezuelan asylum seekers leave an immigrant information center in Manhattan in New York City on Oct. 9, 2022. (Kena Betancur/VIEWpers via Getty Images)
A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement that “no decisions have been made as we prepare to lift Title 42 for public health.”
The spokesperson was referring to the May 11 halt of Title 42, a Trump-era order issued at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic that allows for the rapid deportation of migrants at the southern border on public health grounds. Officials have predicted an additional surge at the border when the order is lifted, and the administration has unveiled a number of measures to counter such a shift.
The report sparked anger from immigration activists and some Democrats who were appalled 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 advocating tougher policies on illegal immigration, was dismissive of the reports.
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“Every decision the government has made has been for the sole purpose of getting more illegal immigrants into the United States as quickly as possible,” he said. “If the administration actually had a desire to reduce illegal immigration, rather than continually increasing it, they would re-implement every Trump policy, starting with Safe Thirds and Remain in Mexico.”
Thomas Homan, who served at the highest level of ICE in both the Obama and Trump administrations, told Fox News Digital he thinks the move is for show. Homan added that unless changes are made to court-imposed restrictions that now restrict family detention to just 20 days, meaning families are unlikely to hear their asylum cases during that time, it is unlikely to be a major will make a difference.
“I think the election is coming up. I think it’s all for electoral purposes. I think it’s all political,” he said. “Unless we can hold them long enough to see a judge, it will have minimal impact on border security.”
Homan said that during the Obama administration and before the 20-day limit was imposed, border numbers decreased as officials were able to expedite matters and quickly deport migrants. If a new tighter time frame is not changed, it is unlikely that cases can be dealt with within that time.
Homan added that migrants can receive medical care over time in family residential centers and officials can check whether a child is part of a family unit or is being trafficked.
“It gives us time to verify their address, verify where they’re going, verify who they’re going to live with. We can make sure we’re sending the messages (that show up) to the right house, give us time to get their family groups. It gives us time to make sure they’re healthy, that they don’t bring disease to the communities,” Homan said. “But unless they have judges to speed up the hearings, it won’t have a huge impact on border security.”
He also countered claims by activists that detention was brutal, noting that centers had features such as Zumba classes and movie screenings, as well as medical care that migrants had sometimes missed.
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“A lot of the childhood vaccines that these kids got, they got from us. Many of them saw a dentist in these facilities for the first time in their lives. Or a doctor,” he said. “These families are going through a very tough journey to this country, and we can meet the medical needs… country and come to a new country. It was very expensive, but it served a great purpose, I thought.”
Morgan similarly doubted that asylum hearings would be expedited by a judge at the border, though he proposed a new asylum rule that would allow asylum officers to hear cases rather than judges being used to push them through through what he said would be a “stamp” are. .”
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“If that’s not the goal, then their goal is just to alleviate the bad political views of local NGOs and the overwhelm of the border, and they will push them into these family living centers that are in other parts of the border where they are. they will give them a transition period before they process and release them,” Morgan said.
He also suggested that the new reports could be a sign of the political pressure facing the Biden administration over a border crisis now deep into its third year that has been a constant eyesore. Although the administration claims that the recent measures it has introduced are working.
“I think it’s also indicative of how they, too, can no longer pretend that what’s happening under their leadership isn’t a complete colossal failure, period,” Morgan said.
Adam Shaw is a political reporter for Fox News Digital, primarily covering immigration and border security.
He can be reached at [email protected] or at Twitter.