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Number of Immigrant Detainees Skyrockets in Past Months

Plus: Parents of 368 migrant children still missing, and nonprofit prepares children for immigration court proceedings

Deanna Garcia

Jul 02, 2021

This summary was featured in Documented’s Early Arrival newsletter. You can subscribe to receive it in your inbox three times per week here.

The number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees, as well as the number of those who passed their asylum screenings, has skyrocketed under the Biden administration, according to BuzzFeed News’ analysis of government data. Earlier this year, there were 14,000 immigrants held in private prisons and local jails. By June, that number increased to close to 27,000. The Biden administration reduced ICE arrests and deportations this year. Still, private and county jails that worked with ICE remained empty for most of 2020 since the agency reduced tits number of detained immigrants due to the pandemic. BuzzFeed News 

In other national immigration news…

Parents of 368 Migrant Children are Still Missing

According to a federal court filing from the Justice Department and the American Civil Liberties Union, attorneys are still searching for the parents of 369 migrant children who were separated at the southern border under the Trump administration. Only the parents of 23 of those children were found since May. This filing is part of the continuous effort to identify and reunite the separated families three years after the creation of the “zero tolerance” policy. According to government data, this policy separated about 2,800 children from their parents. Officials eventually discovered that an additional 1,000 children were separated from their families before the policy was in place. CNN 

Nonprofit Prepares Migrant Children for Immigration Proceedings

Groups of attorneys have been visiting Southland intake shelters for unaccompanied children seeking asylum and protection to assist in getting them ready for immigration proceedings. “We really are just preparing them for the fact that this is a legal system, that this is a legal system that they will have to participate in and the importance of … participating and coming to court,” said Yliana Johansen-Mendez, legal services director at Immigrant Defenders Law Center. Most of the children they assist are held at the Long Beach Convention Center, which is where 916 migrant children have so far been reunited with family members. ABC7 

South Dakota Sends 50 National Guard Troops to Border

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) announced she would use funding from a Republican donor to deploy about 50 South Dakota National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border. According to Noem’s spokesperson Ian Fury, Noem made the decision to fund the deployment with a private donation “to help alleviate the cost to South Dakota taxpayers.” He declined to give an estimate of the cost due to “security reasons.” Fury said Willis and Reba Johnson’s Foundation made the donation directly to the state. Willis Johnson, a Tennessee-based billionaire, regularly makes large donations to Republicans. NPR 

Arizona Activists Demand an End to Trans Migrant Detention

Karolina López, a trans woman from Mexico, was undressed and put with male detainees at Eloy Detention Center in 2009. López referred to that moment as “one of the worst experiences of my life.” She spent three years in Eloy, where she was attacked verbally and physically by other detainees. Those who faced similar experiences as López and allies started #EndTransDetention, by Familia Trans Queer Liberation Movement, during Pride Month to end detention for transgender migrants. Dozens of trans migrants are often held with cisgender migrants in ICE detention centers, which led to multiple human rights violations and the death of two detainees, according to Human Rights Watch. AZCentral



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