FRIENDSHIP HEIGHTS, MD – An NPR story released today placed a spotlight on ICE’s practice of removing unaccompanied immigrant children from youth shelters on their 18th birthday and placing them in adult detention centers, which violates a 2008 law enacted by Congress. In 2008, Congress enacted a law that instructs ICE to place unaccompanied immigrant children “in the least restrictive setting available” or find them alternatives to detention. Typically, that means finding a sponsor or a group home for them. Then, in 2013, Congress amended the rule to extend the protections to immigrants who turn 18 in U.S. custody.
Presidential candidate John Delaney releases the following statement:
“Trump’s practice of arresting unaccompanied minors on their 18th birthday and placing them in adult detention centers isn’t just cruel, it violates Congressional intent. Congress has been clear on this issue: ICE is expected to place unaccompanied immigrant children ‘in the least restrictive setting available.’ That includes immigrants who turn 18 in U.S. custody.
“Putting an 18-year old in handcuffs on their birthday and dragging them to an adult detention center certainly doesn’t seem to qualify as ‘least restrictive.’ Treating people who flee horrific conditions in their home country like common criminals undermines our moral authority around the world. It is not who we are and not what we should be doing.”
In January, Delaney toured the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas, a facility that holds approximately 1,700 asylum seekers. Delaney and his wife April McClain-Delaney also sponsored a group of 14 students and two professors from Georgetown University Law Center to provide legal assistance to asylum seekers for a week and will be sponsoring a second group in late spring.