US immigration officials are to change their policies on family detentions and have ordered reviews of families that have been held in detention for more than 90 days. They are also set to create an advisory committee whose task it will be to advise the government on their detention policies, court filings have revealed.
The policy of detaining Central American women and children caught crossing the border into the United States illegally has been challenged by two lawsuits. Because many of the immigrants were claiming asylum there has been widespread criticism of the decision to keep them in custody until their cases were decided in court.
“While we routinely review and evaluate our facilities to ensure that we are providing the level of care required by our Family Residential Standards, we understand the unique and sensitive nature of detaining families and we are committed to maintaining the optimal level of care,” Sarah Saldana, the director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, stated in a press release announcing the changes. “The measures ICE is announcing reaffirm that understanding and our commitment to ensuring all individuals in our custody are held and treated in a safe, secure and humane manner.”
There are to be a number of amendments, such as the development of the advisory committee and an exploration of further methods to improve the conditions at detention centers holding families. They include increasing freedom of movement and giving more opportunities for recreation than is the case at most such centers.