ICE official: Contra Biden, we are not ending family detentions

If you’ve been listening to all of the rhetoric coming out of the White House recently, as well as Joe Biden’s pick to run Homeland Security, the days of illegal immigrant families being kept in detention centers (which used to be known as concentration camps on the left) are over. Biden’s catch and release program is sending those families onward to meet up with relatives and wait for the day when they may or may not show up for a court appearance. All is well with the world, right?

Well, at least according to one senior ICE official, that’s really not the case at all. They said that the family detention centers are still running and typically holding the families for the full twenty days allowed by law. So what’s really going on? (NBC News)

Despite recent comments from President Joe Biden and Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas condemning migrant family detention and a recent court filing by the administration outlining plans to effectively end the practice, a senior ICE official now tells NBC News the agency will keep detaining families after all.

“ICE does maintain and continues to a system for family detention,” the ICE official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “We are not ending family detention. We are not closing the family detention centers.”

The official said there are still more than 100 families in the Karnes County Family Residential Center near San Antonio and over 350 in the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley.

Right off the bat, we should note that these quotes are coming from an anonymous source that NBC News describes as “a senior ICE official,” so assign whatever credibility you wish to the story. Still, it’s generally safe to assume that the reporter who spoke with the source verified their identity prior to interviewing them and running with the story. Also, since this is NBC News we’re talking about, it seems unlikely that they would fake a story to make the Biden administration look incompetent, out of the loop, or otherwise bad.

So if we assume that the source is good, how do we explain the disconnect between Biden’s announcements and what this official is saying? I suppose one possibility is that NBC is talking to a disgruntled senior ICE official who appreciated Donald Trump’s approach and is upset with Biden for undermining his agency’s work. But that doesn’t mean the anonymous source is lying. After all, it wouldn’t take much effort for reporters to go check out those detention centers in Texas and see if they are still packed with families.

So is it possible that Joe Biden gave the order to close the facilities and just assumed it would be done but they’re just ignoring him and keeping on with business as usual anyway? If so, somebody is probably going to be looking for a new job in the next couple of days. As president, Biden has already demonstrated that he has no qualms about firing leftovers from the Trump administration wherever he finds them. I can’t imagine he’d hesitate to give a pink slip to an ICE official who was continuing with Trump’s policies.

Of course, there’s one other possibility that can’t be ignored these days. Is Joe Biden just… confused? Did he intend to issue the orders and then forget to get around to actually doing it? If this were a one-person show I would give that idea more weight, but Biden has people assigned to look after the various departments of the executive branch. If the plan was to shut down the family detention centers, I’m guessing the word would have gone out.

Keep an eye on the Biden administration’s hiring and firing news in the coming days. There may be one “senior ICE official” enacting plans to go spend more time with his family.

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David Strom 4:30 PM | May 28, 2024