Statement for the Record of Eleanor Acer: Oversight of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Over the last year Human Rights First has issued several reports on this country’s escalating detention of asylum seekers. As detailed in those reports, Human Rights First has found that the United States has sharply increased its detention of asylum seekers and that U.S. detention policies and practices relating to families with children and adult asylum seekers violate U.S. human rights and refugee protection legal obligations. Given this country’s global leadership on the protection of refugees, this country’s recent—and massive—increase in the use of detention for asylum seekers sets a poor example for other countries.
In particular, Human Rights First has detailed in Lifeline on Lockdown: Increased U.S. Detention of Asylum Seekers, that ICE is failing in many cases to follow its own parole guidance for asylum seekers and is often requiring indigent asylum seekers to pay bonds that are too high for them to afford. Many asylum seekers are now being detained for many months, and sometimes longer, in jails, prisons and immigration detention facilities. Our research, in collaboration with pediatricians and mental health professionals has documented the devastating impact of even short-term detention on children. Two recent reports documented the lengthy detention of asylum seeking families at the Berks County Residential Center in Pennsylvania, and the lack of access to parole, bond, and legal counsel for asylum seekers held at detention facilities in Georgia.