Advocates: ICE Violating Due Process During Family Detention Release

By Jude Joffe-Block
July 27, 2015

 A federal judge ruled late Friday the federal government’s family detention facilities for migrant families are inadequate for children. But some immigrant rights advocates say there are already evident problems with how Immigration and Customs Enforcement releases families from detention.

While Friday’s court ruling stopped short of ordering the federal government to immediately release women and children held in the country’s three family detention facilities, ICE had already begun to release some families in recent weeks. Some immigration judges on Monday also granted some detained families bond in response to the Friday ruling, according to the San Antonio Express News.

A coalition of immigration attorneys sent a letter to Immigration and Customs Enforcement Monday alleging that officials are violating the due process rights of migrant families as they are being released from two detention facilities in Texas.

“Mothers are unable to see their attorneys when they want to,” said Karen Lucas of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, which was a signatory to the letter. “ICE is telling them things about their case that aren’t true and coercing them to take the most restrictive conditions on their release possible.”

The letter claims ICE agents are coercing women to agree to wear ankle bracelets before they are released, even in cases where the immigration judge did not require it.

Lucas said ICE is also failing to give mothers adequate information in their native languages about how to comply with the terms of their release, such as how to report to ICE and appear for mandatory immigration court hearings once they are out of detention and staying with releatives.

“They are leaving these mothers with little to no information — even in some cases misinformation — about what they need to do now that they have been released,” Lucas said. “They are setting mothers up for failure.”

The Department of Homeland Security did not respond to a request to comment on these allegations.

But a spokeswoman said the agency is “disappointed with the court’s decision” in the latest ruling against family detention and will be responding to the judge by next Monday.

The judge gave the U.S. government until Monday to provide reasons for why she should not implement an order within 90 days to release all families with children from the existing detention facilities.