In the wake of a district court’s ruling against the detention of illegal immigrant families, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) is calling on the Obama administration to vigorously defend the policy.
On Friday, the United States District Court for the Central District of California ruled that the detention of illegal immigrant families violated a 1997 government settlement that set legal parameters for the detention of minors.
The government has until August 3 to convince the court that it should not release the estimated 1,700 illegal immigrant family units in the Department of Homeland Security’s custody and Goodlatte is pressing the administration to respond forcefully.
“The Court’s decision, if left to stand, will essentially end the detention of family units,” the Virginia lawmaker wrote in a letter Tuesday to DHS Sec. Jeh Johnson. “This will no doubt lead to large increases in the already excessively high numbers of aliens surging across the southwestern U.S. border and failing to appear for their removal proceedings.”
Goodlatte highlighted recent statistics showing that 84 percent of illegal immigrants with children have failed to appear for their court hearings and 46 percent of illegal immigrant minors have failed to appear as well.
“Detention is the best way to ensure that unlawful aliens show up for their immigration court dates,” he wrote.
He recalled his and other Republicans’ arguments that the Obama administration’s policies lead to the recent influx of illegal immigration by Central American minors and family units.
“I have previously concluded, and continue to believe, that evidence proves that the border surge of unaccompanied alien minors, family units and other unlawful aliens in recent years is a direct result of the current Administration’s many policies aimed at rewarding unlawful aliens by allowing them to remain in the United States,” he wrote, pointing to Obama’s changes to enforcement priorities and executive amnesties.
“Such Administration policies hold no one accountable for their illegal actions,” he wrote.
Goodlatte offered positive words for the Obama administration’s expansion of family detention in the wake of the border surge and urged the government to defend those policies.
“I understand that to fight this case may be an arduous undertaking in the face of well-funded and very motivated advocacy groups that decry any immigration enforcement. But your duty is to the American people to prevent and deter unlawful border entries,” Goodlatte wrote.
“I request that, in your response and in any further proceedings with the District Court, you undertake an aggressive and vigorous defense of DHS authority to engage in detention of family units. I also request that, should the need arise, you request an emergency stay of any District Court order to do away with detention of family units, and appeal such a decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals,” he concluded.