The Slatest

Trump Administration Seeking Up to 15,000 Beds to Expand Immigrant Family Detention

A Cuban man seeking asylum waits along the border bridge after being denied into the Texas city of Brownsville which has become dependent on the daily crossing into and out of Mexico on June 22, 2018 in Brownsville, Texas.
A Cuban man seeking asylum waits along the border bridge after being denied into the Texas city of Brownsville which has become dependent on the daily crossing into and out of Mexico on June 22, 2018 in Brownsville, Texas.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The Trump administration is reportedly getting things in order to markedly expand its use of detention facilities to house families of migrants who cross the border illegally. In a notice issued Friday, immigration authorities say they may seek as many as 15,000 beds to detain families. That notice comes as the Justice Department is seeking permission from a federal court in California “to allow children to be detained longer and in facilities that don’t require state licensing while they await immigration court proceedings,” reports the Associated Press.

Coming mere days after President Donald Trump signed an executive order calling for an end to separating families at the border, the notice illustrates how the White House solution to the problem is to increase the time kids stay in detention facilities. Immigrant advocates have long said there are better solutions for immigrants than putting them behind bars, but the Homeland Security Department says that the more constrictions they face in housing families, “the more likely it is that families will attempt illegal border crossing,” August Flentje, special counsel to the assistant attorney general, wrote in a court filing.

Mother Jones points out that those who are likely to answer the request for information posted Friday by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement on FedBizOpps.gov are “private prison companies, which already detain nearly all of the families in ICE custody.”

Immigrant rights advocates say the Justice Department is trying to ignore current standards in order to use detention as immigration deterrence. “You will have children in facilities that are entirely inappropriate for children and are not meeting child welfare standards,” said Michelle Brane, director of the migrant rights and justice program at the Women’s Refugee Commission. “They are trying to circumvent child welfare standards.”