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"Women and Children First" is Still a Thing, According to More Than One Immigration Attorney

It’s not just a sentiment reserved for a sinking ship or burning building, but one that’s alive and in practice today, according to this news story about Immigration and Customs Enforcement-run detention centers in Texas. First out of the detention centers, that is, an immigration attorney from San Antonio might be quick to clarify. The centers are set up south of the city after thousands of migrant families crossed the border last summer, and apparently now the women and children, or more specifically, mothers and children, are “being released on bond more quickly” from these holding facilities.

With one facility in Dilley, Texas holding about 2,000 individuals, and the other less than 150, there are plenty of people lining up for the services of an immigration attorney in San Antonio after their releases, some of which are being granted with the use of ankle-bracelet monitoring, on bond, of course. Because ICE wants these people to show up for their immigration hearings. But in the meantime, ICE is internally adjudicating who may or may not be a flight risk, and attempting to clear out the detention centers by releasing those who seem like low-priority.

Which mostly includes mothers and children. Provided they meet certain (undisclosed) criteria that ICE considers in weighing who gets released and who stays behind bars, moms which young children and family nearby might be the lucky ones who are the most likely to get quick access to family members and an immigration attorney in San Antonio for help with their situation.

And we use the term “behind bars” loosely, as we’ve previously discovered how these immigration facilities are actually quite nice, at least reportedly. With indoor playgrounds and flat screen TVs, the detention centers are not quite like state jail or prison. ICE apparently truly designed them with families in mind and more as holding facilities than lock-ups.

Additionally, women and children seeking asylum should be finding their detention to be much more “short term” than others—according to both statements issued by ICE spokespeople and by the experience of an immigration attorney in San Antonio working with released families. After the Department of Homeland Security announced changes tot policy last month, more mothers who report domestic violence situations at home have come in—and out—of the detention centers more quickly.

One woman from Guatemala spent only 17 days with her nine-year-old daughter in the south Texas holding facility after fleeing her ex-husband’s death threats. But even as she was granted release after a little more than two weeks, her bond was $4,000. For moms who stay longer, bonds may be lower—which doesn’t make a lot of sense from a tax payer’s perspective—but this woman was lucky: “her son in Los Angeles was able to cover [the bond] with help from friends and relatives,” and she was released.

DHS policy changes included the promise of “‘reasonable and realistic’ bonds and quick release for families with credible asylum claims.” So far, it looks like DHS is being true to their word.

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