The Biden administration is reportedly considering resurrecting stiffer regulations on families crossing illegally into the U.S. after President Joe Biden scrapped similar policies over a year ago.
Biden officials are debating whether or not to revive family detainment policies as the administration prepares to end Title 42, a Trump-era health order that has allowed U.S. Border Patrol agents to turn away migrants at the border, according to The New York Times. Biden scrapped family detainment policies in 2021 as part of an effort to build an immigration system that is “orderly, safe and humane.”
Since taking office, Biden has overseen an unprecedented immigration crisis at the U.S. southern border. Illegal immigration has surged to an all-time high, and the administration fears that the numbers could worsen after Title 42 expires on May 11.
Bringing back family detainment is one of the proposals officials have floated for tightening border security despite the administration’s previous position that the practice was inhumane and harmed illegal immigrant children. Officials have proposed limiting the time a family can be detained to two weeks, or setting no limits at all, according to the Times.
No final decision has been made on reviving family deportation, according to the Times.
A decision to revive the policy would be a reversal for Biden, who campaigned on ending long detainments or not detaining children at all.
Since ending family detainment, the Biden administration has been releasing families into the interior of the United States with scheduled court dates to hear their asylum claims. The government has ostensibly kept track of the families through trackers such as ankle bracelets or location data on cell phones.
Last year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement admitted to losing track of hundreds of thousands of immigrants. The revelation came in response to an open records request filed by Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC).
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“ICE’s response that they could no longer find records on immigrants in Alternatives to Detention (ATD) that they had previously released came as a shock, particularly after they informed us recently that they had been misleading the public for several months by releasing extremely inaccurate ATD data. The agency really needs to come clean. The American public deserves to have accurate data about the ATD program,” TRAC assistant Professor Austin Kocher said at the time.
In addition to losing track of immigrants it is supposed to be monitoring, ICE deportations have dropped as well, as ICE agents have been reassigned to the U.S. southern border to aid in border security.
ICE deployed more than a thousand of its agents to the southern border last year to supplement Customs and Border Patrol agents with arresting and turning back migrants under Title 42 authority.