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Washington June 30, 2020 – Senate Judiciary Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today called on Immigration and Customs Enforcement to release detained asylum-seeking families together as soon as possible.

            Last week, a federal judge found that the coronavirus was quickly spreading in ICE family residential centers and ordered the agency to release detained children.

            “I urge ICE to release children with their parents and set appropriate and the least-restrictive monitoring conditions for release,” Senator Feinstein wrote. “In the midst of a global pandemic and as the coronavirus spreads in the family detention centers, we must responsibly reduce the number of people in detention. Rather than separating these families, and leaving the adults at risk of coronavirus infection, ICE should work as quickly as possible to release all detained asylum-seeking families together.”

            Full text of the letter follows:

June 30, 2020

Mr. Matthew T. Albence

Acting Director

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

500 12th St. SW

Washington, DC 20536

Dear Acting Director Albence,

            I request that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) release asylum-seeking families detained in the family residential centers together as soon as possible.

            On Friday, in the Flores case, Judge Gee found that, with regard to the spread of coronavirus infection, family residential centers “are on fire and there is no more time for half measures.” I agree.

            There are approximately 124 immigrant children detained with their parents as they seek asylum or other humanitarian protections in the United States. Eleven immigrants at the Karnes Family Residential Center in Karnes City, Texas have tested positive for the coronavirus, and four staff members at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas have also tested positive.

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            Judge Gee gave ICE a choice to either release the detained children with their parents, with potential monitoring, or release the children separately to a suitable sponsor with the parent’s consent.

            I urge ICE to release children with their parents and set appropriate and the least-restrictive monitoring conditions for release. In the midst of a global pandemic and as the coronavirus spreads in the family detention centers, we must responsibly reduce the number of people in detention. Rather than separating these families, and leaving the adults at risk of coronavirus infection, ICE should work as quickly as possible to release all detained asylum-seeking families together.

            Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Sincerely,

Dianne Feinstein

United States Senator