Posted on September 8, 2023

Biden Administration Considers Forcing Migrant Families to Remain in Texas

Hamed Aleaziz, Los Angeles Times, September 7, 2023

The Biden administration is considering forcing some migrant families who enter the country without authorization to remain near the border in Texas while awaiting asylum screening, effectively limiting their ability to travel within the United States, three U.S. officials told The Times.

Administration officials have been considering the idea as a way to stem recent increases in the numbers of migrant families crossing the southern border, which reportedly reached an all-time high last month. Supporters of the remain-in-Texas idea, which has yet to be finalized, hope that it would help the administration advance its goals of quickly deporting families who fail initial asylum screenings and deterring other families from crossing in the first place.

But the proposal, which recalls President Reagan’s efforts to limit asylum seekers’ movements in the late 1980s, is likely to draw fierce opposition from immigrant rights groups and border-state officials. Since 2022, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, has bused thousands of migrants out of his state to Democrat-run cities such as Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C.

The Biden plan would force certain migrant families to remain in Texas — or possibly other border states — by tracking their location through GPS monitoring devices, such as ankle bracelets, according to the three officials, who were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter. The families would be put through an asylum screening process to determine whether they could stay in the U.S. and proceed with their claims. Officials have discussed working with local organizations to provide housing for the families.

If the families failed their initial screenings, they’d be easier to deport because they’d be close to the border.

Migrant families are generally harder to arrest in the interior of the U.S. because of the complicated logistical planning needed to apprehend children and their parents. Migrant family deportations are historically lower than those of single adults seeking asylum in the U.S.

Department of Homeland Security officials have discussed targeting Central American families in the program, because those are countries where the U.S. can deport significant numbers of people.


If implemented, the plan would mark the latest expansion of a Biden administration program known as Family Expedited Removal Management, which imposes curfews and GPS monitoring on migrant families traveling to large cities {snip}


In July, however, Border Patrol encountered more than 60,000 families crossing the border — making up almost half the number of those who crossed the southern border that month. Border Patrol has yet to release that number for August, but the Washington Post reported last week that it was more than 91,000, an all-time record.

Families have accounted for a large portion of the overall increase in crossings since May, when administration officials thought that Biden’s new limits on asylum had finally made a dent in border-crossing numbers.


But the administration has thus far refused to revive the Trump- and Obama-era practice of detaining migrant families at the border.


In the late 1980s, the Reagan administration forced thousands of migrants to apply for asylum near where they crossed in south Texas, and receive their decision there as well. Officials were clear at the time that the policy was intended to deter families from crossing.