US Immigration and Customs Enforcement have announced that they are implementing a series of changes to ensure that the agency’s oversight when it comes to detention centers for immigrant families are enhanced. The announcement follows calls from Congressional lawmakers for the centers to be scrapped.
ICE says that a new Advisory Committee is to be created to give advice to Jeh Johnson, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, and ICE director Sarah Saldana, on the centers. The committee will be comprised of experts in the fields of children and family services, public health, detention management and mental health. The second action will be the appointment of a senior official in ICE to coordinate and review the policies of the detention centers. This official will work with the centers and the headquarters of ICE directly while also meeting with stakeholders to discuss concerns regarding the centers.
The next action will involve expanding on the services that ICE is currently required to provide, including access to legal counsel, educational services, children’s play rooms, comprehensive medical care and social workers. The final action will re-evaluate the detention of immigrant families after the first 90 days, with further reviews for every 60 days after that.
“Unfortunately, today’s plan states that DHS will continue detaining women and children, and only consider methods of making the facilities better and more humane,” noted a joint statement from Representatives Lucille Roybal-Allard, Zoe Lofgren and Luis Gutierrez. “The government should be releasing detainees on supervised or monitored release pending the disposition of their cases.”