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  Legal and Scholarly
ABA Journal
August 20, 2015

ABA Commission on Immigration report excoriates federal detention policy for immigrant families
By Lorelei Laird

A report released Aug. 19 by the ABA Commission on Immigration with the assistance of the law firm of O’Melveny & Myers takes the federal government to task for its policy of detaining immigrant mothers with young children. “Family Immigration Detention: Why The Past Cannot Be Prologue” (PDF) concludes that detaining families—in practice, mainly mothers traveling with young children violates both U.S. law and human rights norms. “By resorting to family detention DHS has not met its emergency preparedness, legal or fairness goals,” the report says. “These failures have left in their wake a population of traumatized children and their parents, struggling with the consequences of unnecessary detention.” The families described in the report are part of the same exodus as the “surge” of unaccompanied minors that made headlines in 2014. They are typically from Central America and fleeing an increase in gang violence that their governments cannot or will not control. In some cases, they’re also trying to reunite with family or hoping to alleviate extreme poverty. Many turn themselves in to authorities as soon as they reach the border, the report says, and most will seek asylum. Those asylum claims take time to adjudicate—particularly since the immigration courts had a large backlog of 453,948 cases as of July. Prior to last year, the report says, families in this position were typically released pending hearings..........[Citing TRAC research]

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