There was some good news Wednesday for asylum seekers. ICE assistant secretary John Morton announced that the government would no longer detain them if they can prove their identities, are not dangerous or a flight risk, and have a credible fear of persecution or torture in their home countries. http://bit.ly/4LM3F1
But it might be a tad early to celebrate.
The details of the plan are not yet clear. As Professor Regina Germaine of the Georgetown University Law Center observed in an email message to an Immigration Professors’ Listserve, “the criteria for release has always been (since 1996) the 3 factors mentioned by John Morton – 1) ID, 2) not a danger or flight risk, and 3) credible fear. And the lack of one or more of these factors is cited when ICE refuses to release someone.”
So, has Morton announced a new policy or has he simply restated the existing policy in a way which suggests release, but, in fact, will lead to continued detention of asylum seekers?
Another unanswered issue is whether the policy will be followed by ICE officers throughout the country. Professor Margaret Taylor of Wake Forest University suggests it’s an open question. “Hopefully there will be ‘buy in’ and compliance in the field offices with this policy, but history suggests otherwise.”
For now let’s take the Administration at its word. But time will tell whether the draconian policy of incarcerating people who seek refuge in America has finally come to an end.