Attorney General Jeff Sessions is opening another 1,600 jail beds to house economic migrants who are now facing prosecution after being caught while crossing the border, according to Reuters.
The news service reported on the deal between Sessions and Thomas Homan, the director of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency:
A new agreement between ICE and the Justice Department makes about 1,600 prison beds available and is expected to last 120 days, giving ICE time to secure more space for detainees. It comes amid a crackdown by Attorney General Jeff Sessions on both illegal border crossings and people seeking asylum…
Recently, Sessions said the Justice Department planned to prosecute every person who crosses the border illegally and to separate migrant children from their parents. Trump in the spring signed a memorandum ending “catch and release,” in which illegal immigrants were released from detention while awaiting court hearings.
According to ICE data, the average daily population of detainees in its facilities as of May 26 was 41,134, up from the 2017 daily average of 38,106.
Roughly 1,000 migrants will be held in Victorville, California, and the other detainees will be distributed to centers Washington state, Oregon, Arizona, and Texas, Reuters reported.
The spike in detainees comes after Sessions’ established abandoned zero-tolerance policies which had helped curb migration in New Mexico. Those zero-tolerance policies were ended by officials working for former President Barack Obama. The polices has yet to push migrants numbers downwards, but the reported numbers in May grew only slightly from April.
The zero-tolerance policies are intended to help end Obama’s “catch and release” policies, which have allowed hundreds of thousands of Central American economic migrants to work in the United States. Only about 10 percent of the migrants appear at their court hearings, which can take place years after their release.
Advocates of greater immigration, including immigration lawyers, decried the new pro-American policies:
Do we really want to be a country that locks up refugees & takes their children? Is that really who we are? https://t.co/6czYi6vY7o
— David Leopold (@DavidLeopold) June 7, 2018
Some of the detainees may be parents who brought their children into the United hoping to used the Flores catch-and-release loophole. The Flores loophole, set in 1997 by a court, says border officials cannot detain migrants with children for more than 20 days. Uner Sessions, officials are housing children in safe centers while the parents are detained until they claims are processed and they are deported.
This picture is iconic too. The parents. Shackled, charged with a mere misdemeanor, subjected to mass trials that mock norms of due process.
When they plead for lenience, their words often qualify them for asylum.
Asylum. That's LEGAL IMMIGRATION. pic.twitter.com/Tm7lYp3S1v
— Hassan Ahmad (@HMAesq) June 8, 2018