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US: Reduce Holds of Immigrant Families 03/06 09:15

   U.S. immigration authorities will no longer use a small Pennsylvania 
detention center to hold parents and children seeking asylum, part of a broader 
shift by President Joe Biden's administration to reduce the use of family 
detention.

   HOUSTON (AP) -- U.S. immigration authorities will no longer use a small 
Pennsylvania detention center to hold parents and children seeking asylum, part 
of a broader shift by President Joe Biden's administration to reduce the use of 
family detention.

   In a court filing Friday, the U.S. government said it had released all 
families detained at the 96-bed Berks County family detention center in 
Leesport, Pennsylvania. The detention center will instead be used by U.S. 
Immigration and Customs Enforcement to hold adults, the government said.

   Families will still be detained at larger detention centers in Karnes City 
and Dilley in Texas, but the government intends to hold people at those sites 
for three days or less, the court filing said.

   Lawyers who work with detained immigrant families welcomed the news and 
credited the Biden administration for announcing the shift. But they noted that 
even shorter detention stays could be harmful to children.

   "Family detention will never truly be over until the facilities are closed 
and the contracts with ICE end," said Bridget Cambria, executive director of 
the legal group Aldea - The People's Justice Center.

   All three family detention centers opened when Biden was vice president to 
President Barack Obama. While running for president, Biden pledged to release 
detained families.

   The Biden administration has already released several families seeking 
asylum who had been detained for a year or longer in Texas and in some cases 
came within hours of deportation. Those families will pursue their cases while 
remaining subject to ICE monitoring.

   In his early days, Biden has confronted increasing numbers of families and 
unaccompanied children crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, leading to shortages of 
space in Border Patrol holding cells and long-term facilities for children 
operated by Health and Human Services. In the case of the Border Patrol, 
hundreds of children in recent weeks have been detained longer than 72 hours, 
the general limit set by the agency's standards.

   Biden stopped the practice initiated by former President Donald Trump of 
expelling unaccompanied immigrant children under public health authority. 
Officials expelled thousands of children to their countries of origin without 
giving them a chance to seek asylum or other protections under federal law.

   The Biden administration continues to expel immigrant families and adults.




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