Eight illegal immigrant “family units” the federal government took into custody during last month’s immigration enforcement raids have been released from custody as their cases continue, according to a coalition of immigration advocacy groups.
In early January, the Obama administration moved forward with limited enforcement actions against 121 illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. from Central America after May 2014 and remained in the country despite removal orders.
The raids were met with outrage by immigration activists and skepticism from immigration hawks who saw the actions as an insufficient response to the ongoing run on the southern border.
While many of the 121 illegal immigrant family units have already been removed, immigration activists have made appeals on behalf of some of the illegal immigrant families. Following the raids, the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project appealed and won temporary stays of removal for 12 family units made up of 33 adults and children.
Tuesday, the CARA Project— an effort of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the American Immigration Council, and the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. — said eight of the 12 family units had been released from custody as their cases continue.
Ironically, the release of apprehended illegal immigrant families was a major reason ICE had to conduct January’s raids. Since 2014 hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants from Central America have been detained illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. Most of the Central American family units and unaccompanied minors apprehended at the border were simply released to the interior of the U.S. with notices to appear in immigration court, a requirement many have ignored.
According to ICE, the illegal families who have been released are expected to be monitored with electronic monitoring devises and check in with ICE in accordance with the terms of their supervised release.
“ICE makes custody determinations on a case-by-case basis consistent with DHS enforcement priorities and controlling law,” ICE spokesman Bryan Cox said in an emailed statement. “Those released from detention may be released subject to appropriate conditions, including enrollment in ICE’s Alternatives to Detention (ATD) program.”