The Biden administration announced a new policy which would prevent ICE from detaining or arresting people who are pregnant or nursing, or who had a baby within the previous year. Though immigration advocates have applauded the policy change, some worry about the longevity of this decision as it was made through an executive order and could be easily reversed by future administrations. Under the Trump administration, the number of pregnant immigrants in detention had increased dramatically, after an Obama-era policy, which called for their detainment only under extreme circumstances, had been overwritten. This new policy also does not apply to pregnant, nursing, or postpartum immigrants being held in CBP custody.
The Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General released a report which documented cases of ICE agents expelling separated parents without their children, despite knowing that those parents wanted their children with them. The report also notes that it was unclear whether or not ICE gave some parents the option to reunify with their children before being expelled from the U.S. These cases occurred under the Trump administration’s family separation program. Between July 2017 and July 2018, as many as 348 parents were expelled from the U.S. without their children, with no documentation of whether they had agreed to be separated.
DHS Secretary Mayorkas told ICE employees that border wall construction may restart to plug gaps in the current barrier.
ICE officials told immigration activists that they will be ending long-term detention at two Texas facilities, Dilley and Karnes City. Migrants will be held just long enough to administer Covid tests and arrange transportation but will no longer be held to wait for asylum screenings or court dates.
The first few weeks of the Biden administration have seen an uptick in ICE’s deportations of Haitian migrants, with dozens of asylum seekers being dropped off in Mexico without processing or credible fear interviews. Others, including children and infants, are being sent back to Haiti, which is experiencing mounting political violence due to U.S-backed president Jovenel Moïse attempting to extend his term.
- The Committee on Homeland Security holds a hearing on “Children in CBP Custody: Examining Deaths, Medical Care Procedures, and Improper Spending.”
- CBP and ICE launch a pilot program to collect DNA of U.S. citizens, permanent residents holding a “green card,” asylum seekers, and people entering the country without authorization when detained by Border Patrol. Starting January 13, CBP will collect swabs from people apprehended at the Canadian border near Detroit, Michigan, and at the official port of entry in Eagle Pass, Texas. The pilot program will last 90 days, subjects as young as 14 will be tested, and there are plans to expand nationwide.