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WRC Expresses Outrage at Potential Reinstatement of Family Detention by Biden Administration

In response to the news that the Biden administration is considering reinstating family detention — and on the eve of International Women’s Day — Katharina Obser, director of the Migrant Rights and Justice program at the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC), issued the following statement:

“As the world prepares to celebrate International Women’s Day, President Biden is considering reinstating family detention. WRC saw first-hand the utterly devastating impact of family detention. We saw parents desperate to flee harm and protect their families. It was and is inhumane. Family detention has absolutely no place in a just and welcoming asylum system.

“It is unconscionable that the Biden administration is considering a return to a costly and inhumane practice that experts ranging from the American Academy of Pediatrics, government physicians tasked with inspecting the facilities, and even ICE’s own advisory committee on family detention have said should be ended. Family detention harms children and, like all detention, creates impossible hurdles to due process. WRC, alongside our many partners, has documented in detail, based on numerous visits to such facilities for over 10 years, that there is simply no humane way to detain families.

“In light of the mountain of evidence against family detention — and what we saw first-hand — it is particularly shameful that the administration is considering restarting family detention when it could instead turn to smart and humane programs. Case management — like the discontinued Family Case Management Program or current Case Management Pilot Program — can support families as they successfully navigate the asylum process and find stability with their families and communities.

“The Biden administration must immediately abandon this and any other plan to try to punish and deter — unsuccessfully — women, girls, and families from seeking asylum. We urge the Biden administration to publicly refute these plans and reaffirm its previous commitment to build a humane and fair asylum system.”