Justice

Documents Reveal President Trump's Plans for Immigrant Families

President Donald Trump's administration is reportedly considering a massive expansion of detention facilities for immigrant families detained by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), according to multiple media reports.

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In an effort to discourage families from illegally entering the country, the administration is weighing the prospect of separating immigrant women and children if they're caught at the border. Women would be held in custody indefinitely as they contest their deportation or apply for asylum, and children would be temporarily placed in protective custody with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The children would then be released to a relative in the U.S. or a state-sponsored guardian.

This represents a break from former President Barack Obama's administrative policy that restricted the amount of time that undocumented women and children could be held at family detention facilities — where they were held together — to 21 days, Reuters reported. The controversial "catch-and-release" policy of the Obama administration made it so that undocumented immigrant families detained by federal immigration agents would be sent back to their country of origin after 21 days. 

From October 2016 to January 2017, about 54,000 immigrant children and guardians were detained.

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Meeting notes obtained exclusively by MSNBC reveal that the policy shift would require a more than 500 percent increase in DHS-contracted detention facilities for undocumented immigrant women. There are currently about 3,500 beds reserved for undocumented immigrants at private prisons and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities, and DHS expected that it will need 20,000 beds total to meet the increased demand. 

MSNBC's Chris Hayes noted on Twitter that this development would likely benefit private prison corporations such as CoreCivic — formerly the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) — which holds about 62 percent of (ICE) detainees.

"The reality is that these are families who are going through horrific experiences," Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, told MSNBC on Friday. "We're talking about traumatizing children for their entire lifetime."

The plan is not official yet and is subject to change. ATTN: reached out to the White House and DHS for comment, but representatives were not immediately available.