In May 2021, President Biden announced steps to prevent delays for families apprehended by border control when crossing into the United States from Mexico. The plan involves 10 dedicated immigration dockets in cities that can manage the influx of cases.
Review the changes families will face if they become involved with the legal system when attempting to enter the U.S.
Alternatives to Detention program
Instead of placement in criminal detention, families will enter the Alternatives to Detention program. They may be subject to GPS tracking, monitoring through phone calls and required check-ins with an immigration officer.
The current backlog in immigration courts results in extended separations and detentions for affected families. In addition to diverting these individuals from detention, the U.S. will now process at least 250 cases each day for families seeking asylum through 10 dedicated legal dockets for immigration. Courts will strive to resolve all immigration cases within 300 days.
Immigration advocates have concerns about this plan. Many immigrants fail to receive due process because they receive notices they cannot understand or do not have a permanent, fixed address to receive court paperwork. The majority of those who are able to attend their hearings do so without legal representation. Advocates also note that dockets failed to expedite the immigration process when used in both the Trump and Obama administrations.
While alternatives to detention have the potential to end family separation with effective and compassionate use, immigrants will still need to protect their rights when facing involvement with the legal system and potential removal from the U.S.