U.S. to reduce detention time for families at holding centers

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced a reform to reduce the time that immigrant families remain at detention centers for undocumented migrants
The detention of families will be short-term in most cases, Johnson announced in a communique. (Photo: AP/Archive )
24/06/2015
20:14
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U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced Wednesday a reform to reduce the time that immigrant families remain at detention centers for undocumented migrants, a move made after pressure from lawmakers and activists to close these installations.

"The detention of families will be short-term in most cases," Johnson announced in a communique.

The decision is a switch in policy for Johnson, who just a year ago defended the detention of families as one of the key steps to halt the wave of unaccompanied minors flowing into the United States from Central America.

"I have reached the conclusion that we must make substantial changes in our detention practices with respect to families with children," Johnson said.

"In short, once a family has established eligibility for asylum or other relief under our laws, long-term detention is an inefficient use of our resources and should be discontinued," he added.

The new plan includes the element that families who can demonstrate a "credible or reasonable fear of persecution in their home countries" may leave the detention centers in exchange for posting a "reasonable and realistic" bond payment.

Johnson made this decision in the face of pressure from legislators and activists for the closing of detention centers and after visiting several of the facilities, the latest one being in Karnes City, Texas, last Monday.

"Our larger hope is that Central American families will heed our repeated calls to find a safe and lawful path for the migration of children to the United States," the secretary said.

He noted that a refugee program was established last year in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras for children of immigrants who were living legally in the United States.

"We continue to encourage families to take advantage of that program. I have personally seen enough to know that the path of illegal migration from Central America to our southern border is a dangerous path and it is not for children," he said. 

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