Washington – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced today the planned November 2014 opening of the nation’s largest detention facility for children and their families in Dilley, Texas. Responding to advocates’ concerns that detention in prison-like facilities is inappropriate for children and harmful to their development, the Obama Administration had sharply curtailed the use of family detention centers by 2009. Since then, ICE has employed cost-effective and reliable alternatives to detention for families with children. These approaches also facilitate due process, by eliminating practical obstacles to legal representation. In June, the Obama Administration opened the first new family detention center in Artesia, New Mexico. Today’s announcement marks the largest reversal of the Administration’s child-friendly immigration enforcement policy to date. Reacting to this announcement, the bipartisan children’s advocacy organization First Focus released the following statement by Wendy Cervantes, Director of the First Focus Center for the Children of Immigrants:

“Prison is no place for children. Research shows that detention harms children’s health and undermines their relationships with their parents. The Obama Administration’s reversal of its long-standing policy of protecting children from the trauma of detention is as stunning as it is disappointing. We urge congressional overseers to demand accountability from the Administration on the well-being of children affected by this policy and push the Administration for an end to the imprisonment of children.”