The least that immigration officials could do for traumatized migrant families that have been held in harmful immigration jails is to make sure they have a U.S. relative to go to after their release. In fact, it’s protocol, but protocol that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been disregarding, NBC News reports, following officials releasing hundreds of families onto the streets without so much as giving instructions on court dates or making sure they even have a place to go to.
“ICE spokeswoman Yasmeen O’Keefe said because of the volume of families presenting themselves along the Arizona border,” NBC News continues, “ICE can no longer review each immigrant’s travel plans prior to release without violating a federal court agreement, known as the Flores settlement, that limits the amount of time children can be detained to 20 days.”
But the protocol is also supposed to assure families have the ability to get to their court dates. If they miss their court dates, they could seriously endanger an asylum claim, for example. Families must be together and free, but slapping on “ankle monitors to track their whereabouts” before tossing them onto the street is pure negligence. Now ICE is shoving its responsibilities onto churches and other local organizations.
“We are all sitting here, all volunteers, all running around making sure we have enough pizza to feed lunch to everyone,” said one church member, “who asked not to be named in order to avoid retaliation by anti-immigration protesters,” said. The church is currently helping about 100 recently released migrants that ICE sent them with Greyhound tickets and basic needs like showers. “We spend so much time with the minutiae that we really don’t know what’s going on. No one has told us this is part of a broader policy.”
The Trump administration doesn’t have to detain migrant families in the first place. There are alternatives to detention that have not only been proven, they are humane, and far less costly to taxpayers. One pilot program, the Family Case Management Program (FCMP), saw 99 percent of participants show up for court dates and check-ins. Instead, the Trump administration shut it down. Now an administration that recklessly tore families apart is releasing families in the most reckless of ways.