Progressive, Asian Pacific American, Hispanic caucus leaders urge Biden to reject migrant family detentions

President Biden
Annabelle Gordon
President Biden leaves a Medal of Honor ceremony for Ret. U.S. Army Colonel Paris Davis in the East Room at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Friday, March 3, 2023.

The heads of the House Progressive, Asian Pacific American and Hispanic caucuses urged President Biden on Tuesday to reject the reinstatement of a policy assigning migrant families to detention centers. 

Democratic Reps. Pramila Jayapal (Wash.), who leads the Progressive Caucus; Judy Chu (Calif.), who leads the Asian Pacific American Caucus; and Nanette Barragán (Calif.), who leads the Hispanic Caucus, said in a statement they are “deeply concerned” about reports that the Biden administration might bring back the family detention policy to try to deter people from migrating illegally. 

“We should not return to the failed policies of the past. There is no safe or humane way to detain families and children, and such detention does not serve as a deterrent to migration,” they said. “We strongly urge the administration to reject this wrongheaded approach.” 

The New York Times reported on Monday that officials familiar with discussions said the administration might return the policy of detaining families that cross the border without authorization that gained national attention during the Trump administration. 

Democrats and immigrant advocates slammed the Trump administration for the policy, and Biden ended it once he took office. But the Biden administration has faced mounting criticism over its handling of the situation at the U.S. southern border, with record numbers of migrants coming into the United States. 

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre declined to comment on the reports that the administration may bring back the policy at a press briefing on Tuesday. 

She pointed to the expected end of Title 42, a COVID-19 pandemic-era policy that allowed officials to expel illegal migrants more quickly, once the COVID-19 public health emergency ends in May and emphasized that the administration’s approach to the issue is to promote legal ways for migrants and increase border security. 

The caucus chairs said in their statement that they agree with a statement that Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas made in saying, “’A detention center is not where a family belongs,” in 2021.

Tags Biden Biden administration Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Congressional Hispanic Caucus Congressional Progressive Caucus family detention policy illegal border crossings Judy Chu Judy Chu migrant families Nanette Barragán Pramila Jayapal Pramila Jayapal

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