AILA Public Statements, Press Releases

AILA Urges the Biden Administration to Reject the Return of Family Detention and Calls for the Adoption of Humane and Effective Alternatives

3/7/23 AILA Doc. No. 23030703. Detention & Bond, Removal & Relief

Washington, DC — The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) expressed grave concern at the possibility the Biden Administration may resume family detention as reported recently in the New York Times. AILA has opposed family detention for more than two decades. In 2014, AILA called upon then-President Obama to halt family detention and worked with coalition partners for years to dismantle and end it. Today, AILA urges President Biden to stand by the previous decision to end family detention and reject policies that have been proven to have devastating consequences on children and families. AILA has offered practical solutions that are fair and effective alternatives to detention, as the federal government itself has found detention “neither appropriate nor necessary for families.”

AILA President Jeremy McKinney stated, “Nearly a decade ago, hundreds of AILA members traveled to remote facilities and witnessed first-hand the injustices of family detention. Lawyers knew then—as we know now—that family detention is inhumane, unsafe, unsanitary, and abusive. People in detention rarely have a fair shot at getting asylum or other legal relief because so few have access to legal counsel. We urge President Biden to continue to oppose the ineffective and callous policy and shutter, once and for all, these family detention centers.”

Ben Johnson, AILA Executive Director added, “President Biden’s pledge, and his administration’s determination, to end family detention was a victory in the effort to create a more humane immigration system. Turning their back on that victory would be a mistake. AILA urges the President to resist the ugly politics that are behind the drive to resurrect family detention and stand behind their decision to end such practices. He should instead implement alternatives that are operationally effective but do not subject families to inhumane jail-like detention. The right strategy is an all-of-government approach that builds up resources at ports of entry, increases screening capacity for asylum seekers, and improves immigration court operations. We as a nation can and should manage migration with humanity.”