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WRC Represented at Advisory Committee on Family Residential Centers (ACFRC)

On Friday, Michelle Brané, Director of the Migrant Rights and Justice program at the Women’s Refugee Commission will join fellow members of the Advisory Committee on Family Residential Centers (ACFRC) in a public meeting at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) to discuss recommended reforms to the family detention program.

The Women’s Refugee Commission firmly believes that the use of family detention centers is neither appropriate nor necessary, and has long proposed a number of reforms to the existing system of locking up and separating children and families at the border. The draft report and recommendations of the ACFRC were posted last Friday on the ICE website for public review. The document's overall recommendation is that the detention of families should be avoided. The commission expressed concern with lack of transparency and with the overall current use and conditions of family detention and makes recommendations for alternatives.

Below is an excerpt of the ACFRC’s first recommendation, outlined in the ACFRC Report:

“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. If such an assessment determines that continued custody is absolutely necessary, families should be detained for the shortest amount of time and in the least restrictive setting possible; all detention facilities should be licensed, nonsecure and family-friendly. If necessary to mitigate individualized flight risk or danger, every effort should be made to place families in community-based case-management programs that offer medical, mental health, legal, social, and other services and supports, so that families may live together within a community.”

Katharina Obser, WRC Senior Program Officer of Migrant Rights and Justice Program responded to Friday’s Committee meeting with the following statement:

“The draft findings and recommendations made by the committee demonstrate clearly the problematic nature of family detention. The administration should follow the advice of this committee, called together by Secretary Johnson to provide their expert opinion. Families seeking asylum at the border should be treated humanely and with respect. They should not be detained in penal facilities but instead should be processed and released with the information and support necessary to ensure that they have access to protection and due process in the manner that lives up to our nation's values and standards.”

The Committee discussion on Friday will touch on subtopics such as mental health, education, and language services, all elements of family detention that have come under intense criticism and scrutiny from advocates. By the end of the day, all recommendations submitted will have been discussed and voted upon.