"With this administration’s failure to enforce our immigration laws, it is no surprise that 70 percent of the families released take their chances to stay here and don’t show up for their follow-up appointments or court dates," House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said.
That previously undisclosed no-show rate led in part to the government’s decision in June to open a temporary detention facility at a federal training center in Artesia, New Mexico.
A second immigration jail in Texas was later converted for families and can house about 530 people. A third such detention center will open in Texas later this year. Before the new facility in Artesia, the government had room for fewer than 100 people at its only family detention center in Pennsylvania.
Immigration advocates have complained that the new detention centers were punishing immigrants who ultimately may win lawful asylum claims to remain in the U.S. In the meeting, they also questioned whether immigration officials had clearly and properly instructed immigrants to meet with federal agents within 15 days.
The ICE official said it was necessary to detain families to ensure they didn’t vanish into the U.S. He encouraged advocacy groups to help find ways to ensure that immigrants reported to federal agents as ordered so the government could begin processing their cases, including any requests to remain in the U.S. legally.