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2400 dangerous mothers & children?

This morning — Thursday, November 20 — in Immigration Judge McPhaul’s courtroom, as everyone waited in vain for a working audio connection between the “courtroom” in the Karnes detention center and Judge McPhaul’s courtroom at 800 Dolorosa Street, San Antonio, an lawyer for the US Department of Homeland Security told the rest of us in the room that she and colleagues had received word this morning that “Dilley will open on December 8th.”  

It’s hard to reconcile the opening of a “family detention center” with beds for 2400 people with the following memo, also dated today.


November 20, 2014



Jeh Charles Johnson

Policies for the Apprehension Detention and Removal of Undocumented Immigrants

This memorandum reflects new policies for the apprehension, detention, and removal of aliens in this country. This memorandum should be considered Department-wide guidance, applicable to the activities of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This memorandum should inform enforcement and removal activity, detention decisions, budget requests and execution, and strategic planning.

Except as noted below, the following memoranda are hereby rescinded and superseded: John Morton, Civil Immigration Enforcement: Priorities for the Apprehension, Detention, and Removal of Aliens, March 2, 2011; John Morton, Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion Consistent with the Civil Enforcement Priorities of the Agency for the Apprehension, Detention and Removal of Aliens, June 17, 2011; Peter Vincent, Case-by-Case Review of Incoming and Certain Pending Cases, November 17, 2011 ; Civil Immigration Enforcement: Guidance on the Use of Detainers in the Federal, State, Local, and Tribal Criminal Justice Systems, December 21 , 2012; National Fugitive Operations Program: Priorities, Goals, and Expectations, December 8, 2009.

A. Civil Immigration Enforcement Priorities

Priority 1 (threats to national security, border security, and public safety)

Aliens described in this priority represent the highest priority to which enforcement resources should be directed:

(b) aliens apprehended at the border or ports of entry while attempting to unlawfully enter the United States;

The removal of these aliens must be prioritized unless they qualify for asylum or another form of relief under our laws, or unless, in the judgment of an ICE Field Office Director, CBP Sector Chief or CBP Director of Field Operations, there are compelling and exceptional factors that clearly indicate the alien is not a threat to national security, border security, or public safety and should not therefore be an enforcement priority.


C. Detention

As a general rule, DHS detention resources should be used to support the enforcement priorities noted above or for aliens subject to mandatory detention by law. Absent extraordinary circumstances or the requirement of mandatory detention, field office directors should not expend detention resources on aliens who are known to be suffering from serious physical or mental illness, who are disabled, elderly, pregnant, or nursing, who demonstrate that they are primary caretakers of children or an infirm person, or whose detention is otherwise not in the public interest. To detain aliens in those categories who are not subject to mandatory detention, DHS officers or special agents must obtain approval from the ICE Field Office Director. If an alien falls within the above categories and is subject to mandatory detention, field office directors are encouraged to contact their local Office of Chief Counsel for guidance.


E. Implementation

The revised guidance shall be effective on January 5, 2015. Implementing training and guidance will be provided to the workforce prior to the effective date. The revised guidance in this memorandum applies only to aliens encountered or apprehended on or after the effective date, and aliens detained, in removal proceedings, or subject to removal orders who have not been removed from the United States as of the effective date.

(Emphasis added)

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