tags: Press Releases

“President Biden Should Have a Long Talk with 2020 Presidential Candidate Biden About This” – Vanessa Cárdenas Reacts to Proposed Reinstitution of Family Detention

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Washington, DC – The reported news that the Biden Administration is considering reinstating family detention is a disturbing development that threatens to again take the administration in the wrong direction on immigration policy.

According to Vanessa Cárdenas, Executive Director of America’s Voice: 

“No way, no how should the Biden administration be considering restarting family detention and embracing even more of the cruelty, chaos, and failings of the Donald Trump/Stephen Miller immigration legacy they once decried. President Biden should have a long talk with 2020 presidential candidate Biden about this. What was wrong and ineffective to candidate Biden then should be just as wrong and ineffective from his seat in the Oval Office.”

Resources and Background

President Biden denounced family detention as a candidate: 

  • As the New York Times reports: “As a presidential candidate, Mr. Biden had campaigned against the Trump administration’s use of family detention. ‘Children should be released from ICE detention with their parents immediately,’ he wrote in a June 2020 Twitter post after a federal judge ordered the release of migrant children from detention facilities because of the coronavirus pandemic. ‘This is pretty simple, and I can’t believe I have to say it: Families belong together.’”
  • In his presidential platform, candidate Biden also stated: “It is a moral failing and a national shame when a father and his baby daughter drown seeking our shores. When children are locked away in overcrowded detention centers and the government seeks to keep them there indefinitely. When our government argues in court against giving those children toothbrushes and soap … When children die while in custody due to lack of adequate care. Trump has waged an unrelenting assault on our values and our history as a nation of immigrants. It’s wrong, and it stops when Joe Biden is elected president.”

Among those strongly condemning the prospect of reinstituted family detention include:

  • Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) Chair Nanette Barragán called the report “deeply concerning” and stated: “A just, safe, and humane immigration system should not place families in detention. We should not return to the failed policies of the past where families are detained in substandard conditions with long term damage to children.”
  • In a new analysis posted this morning, Adam Isaacson of the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) assessed “Even If You Put Aside The Cruelty, It Makes No Sense,” highlighting that, “It’s not just heartbreaking. It’s also nonsensical as a deterrent, and remarkably expensive.”
  • In 2017, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a report, “Seeking Safe Haven: Detention of Immigrant Children & Families, based on physicians who had witnessed substandard care in family detention facilities. Their conclusion, “The AAP firmly believes that no child should be in detention.”
  • ICE’s own report from 2016 (Immigration and Customs Enforcement Advisory, Committee on Family Residential Centers, “Report of the ICE Advisory Committee on Family Residential Centers”) determines that “DHS’s immigration enforcement practices should operationalize the presumption that detention is generally neither appropriate nor necessary for families–and that detention or the separation of families for purposes of immigration enforcement or management are never in the best interest of children. DHS should discontinue the general use of family detention, reserving it for rare cases when necessary following an individualized assessment of the need to detain because of danger or flight risk that cannot be mitigated by conditions of release.”