South Carolina residents may be aware the federal immigration detention centers set up in 2014 by the Department of Homeland Security have been widely criticized by both lawmakers and advocates. The centers were established when a large number of immigrant families crossed the border between Mexico and the U.S. Conditions in the centers, which are located in Texas and Pennsylvania, have been described as unsafe and abusive. The Obama administration has been acutely aware of these criticisms, and a new policy was announced on June 24 that will make it easier for some immigrant families to secure their release.
The new policy would apply to families who entered the United States illegally and are eligible for asylum. The Secretary of Homeland Security said when announcing the new policy that detention is not appropriate for families who have shown that they would face persecution or danger if they returned to their home countries. He also said that efforts would be made to speed up the review process so that families do not have to remain in the detention facilities for longer than necessary.
Immigrant detention has become a hot-button political talking point, and several of President Obama's opponents have objected to the new policy. They say that the move could lead to the release of dangerous individuals or families not showing up for scheduled immigration hearings. However, supporters of the measure point out that detainees will be screened and bonds will be placed before families are released.
While this new policy may be welcomed by advocates, the released families may still face deportation or removal if they are unable to substantiate their claims for asylum. An attorney with experience in this area could explain the grounds on which the Department of Homeland Security could begin removal proceedings and also may advocate on behalf of those facing such proceedings.