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Over 100 Members Urge the Administration to Not Detain Migrant Families, Expand Legal Pathways

The Letter is led by Reps. Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Bennie G. Thompson (MS-02), Jerrold Nadler (NY-12), Lou Correa (CA-46), David Trone (MD-06), and Veronica Escobar (TX-16)

WASHINGTON – In response to reports that the Biden Administration is considering restarting family detention, U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) is leading 102 Members of Congress in urging the Administration to maintain their commitment to not detain migrant families and children and to instead expand legal pathways and invest in community-based alternatives to detention.

“The harm of detaining children is clear,” wrote the members. “Even short periods of detention can cause psychological trauma and long-term mental health risks for children. We urge you to maintain your commitment to not detaining families and children and not return to a cruel policy of the past.”

There is no evidence that even a short stay in detention is “safe” for children and studies have shown that children and parents often continue to suffer from anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following detention. In fact, the psychological and physical repercussions of detention were not mitigated in shorter detentions lasting less than 20 days.

“We have seen how legal pathways can work,” continued the members. “When the Biden administration created new legal pathways for nationals of Haiti, Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua, crossings between ports of entry for nationals of those countries fell 97 percent. Further, case management has a proven record of ensuring compliance with immigration obligations while allowing individuals to remain in communities.”

There are sensible, humane solutions to process families and ensure compliance with immigration obligations. The Biden Administration’s work to expand legal pathways successfully reduced crossings between ports of entry for Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans by 98 percent. Further, case management that provides assistance and guidance on navigating the immigration system to families produced a 99 percent compliance rate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and immigration court requirements at a fraction of the cost of detention

The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Case Management Pilot Program (CMPP) is a promising solution to ensure that individuals can navigate immigration proceedings and comply with the process while reducing reliance on immigration detention. Case management is also more cost-effective and humane compared to immigration detention. In February, Jayapal, Nadler, and Barragan led a letter calling for the program to be fully funded in the FY2024 budget.

The letter is being co-led by Representatives Bennie G. Thompson (MS-02), Jerrold Nadler (NY-12), Lou Correa (CA-46), David Trone (MD-06), and Veronica Escobar (TX-16), and is co-signed by Representatives Alma Adams (NC-12), Becca Balint (VT), Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Jamaal Bowman (NY-16), Cori Bush (MO-01), Salud Carbajal (CA-24), Tony Cárdenas (CA-29), André Carson (IN-07), Greg Casar (TX-35), Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (FL-20), Judy Chu (CA-28), David N. Cicilline (RI-01), Yvette Clarke (NY-09), Emanuel Cleaver (MO-05), Steve Cohen (TN-09), Jasmine Crockett (TX-30), Jason Crow (CO-06), Danny K. Davis (IL-07), Madeleine Dean (PA-04), Diana DeGette (CO-01), Suzan DelBene (WA-01), Debbie Dingell (MI-06), Lloyd Doggett (TX-37), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Dwight Evans (PA-03), Lois Frankel (FL-22), Maxwell Frost (FL-10), Ruben Gallego (AZ-03), Robert Garcia (CA-42), Sylvia Garcia (TX-29), Jesús G. “Chuy” García (IL-04), Daniel S. Goldman (NY-10), Jimmy Gomez (CA-34), Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-07), Jahana Hayes (CT-05), Val Hoyle (OR-04), Jared Huffman (CA-02), Glenn Ivey (MD-04), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Sara Jacobs (CA-51), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr. (GA-04), Sydney Kamlager-Dove (CA-37), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Derek Kilmer (WA-06), Rick Larsen (WA-02), Barbara Lee (CA-12), Summer Lee (PA-12), Teresa Leger Fernández (NM-03), Mike Levin (CA-49), Ted W. Lieu (CA-36), Betty McCollum (MN-04), Morgan McGarvey (KY-03), James P. McGovern (MA-02), Gregory Meeks (NY-05), Robert Menendez (NJ-08), Grace Meng (NY-06), Gwen Moore (WI-04), Grace Napolitano (CA-31), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Frank Pallone (NJ-06), Jimmy Panetta (CA-19), Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10), Brittany Pettersen (CO-07), Katie Porter (CA-47), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Delia Ramirez (IL-03), Deborah Ross (NC-02), Andrea Salinas (OR-06), Linda T. Sánchez (CA-38), Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-05), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Adam Schiff (CA-30), David Scott (GA-13), Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03), Terri Sewell (AL-07), Adam Smith (WA-09), Darren Soto (FL-09), Marilyn Strickland (WA-10), Eric Swalwell (CA-14), Mark Takano (CA-39), Mike Thompson (CA-04), Dina Titus (NV-01), Rashida Tlaib (MI-12), Jill Tokuda (HI-02), Ritchie Torres (NY-15), Lori Trahan (MA-03), Lauren Underwood (IL-14), Juan Vargas (CA-52), Nydia M. Velázquez (NY-07), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Nikema Williams (GA-05), Frederica Wilson (FL-24).

The full text of the letter can be found here.