The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

June 23, 2014

White House acts to ease legal crunch at border


Officials plan to house more families at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia, N.M. The facility, which is used for training federal officers, is being outfitted to hold up to 700 parents with children who are in removal proceedings, officials said Friday.

Brane said immigrant-rights advocates are concerned that at the new detention centers, immigrant families will not have adequate access to attorneys. They also worry that judges and government lawyers will be sent to hear families’ cases there instead of at courthouses where immigrants, apart from their children and guards, can be speak more freely about sensitive subjects such as domestic and sexual abuse.

But she said the new facilities would be preferable to keeping immigrants in overcrowded Border Patrol stations, where officials this week led reporters on a tour, displaying children corralled behind high chain-link fences and sleeping on concrete floors under grubby blankets.

“My hope would be that they transition into using it as processing, that they use it to get families out of Border Patrol stations for processing people into alternatives to detention programs where they can file their claim and go through the process,” she said of the new detention centers.

Advocates have also asked the administration to expand cheaper, less restrictive alternatives to detention, releasing immigrants and keeping tabs on them by telephone or electronic ankle monitors.

Mayorkas said they will use alternative monitoring, though it’s not clear how extensively.

Administration officials said the effort to halt the immigration tide would deal not only with combating crime and poverty but also working to halt widespread rumors among Central Americans that immigrants with families will be allowed to remain in the U.S.

“We’re doing everything possible both to support countries in stemming the tide of this migration, but also to deal with the misinformation that is being deliberately planted by criminal organizations, by smuggling networks, about what people can expect if they come to the United States. That is misinformation that is being promulgated and put forward in a very deliberate way,” said Cecilia Munoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council.

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