Detention Watch Network demands to see an official end to family detention that results in the permanent closure of detention facilities

For Immediate Release: 
Thursday, December 16, 2021

Washington, DC – In response to Axios reporting that the Biden administration will stop detaining undocumented families in detention centers, Silky Shah, Executive Director of Detention Watch Network issued the following statement:

“While this is encouraging news, it must be realized with an official policy to end the practice of family detention that results in the permanent closure of detention centers without the facilities being converted into adult detention centers. In the absence of an official policy end, the Biden administration is leaving the door open to reignite family detention in the future despite the overwhelming consensus to shut these facilities down for good and ensure that no family is detained in ICE custody ever again. President Obama also ended the practice of family detention at the Hutto Detention Center in his first year in office, only to bring large scale family detention back in 2014. Hutto remains open today as an ICE facility for women.”

“ICE’s family detention centers, like all detention centers, need to be shut down and contracts must be terminated. Support services for people who need it, like transportation and housing, should be provided and facilitated by local community based groups – never ICE, an enforcement agency that is plagued by egregiously poor conditions and a culture of violence that results in system-wide abuses.”

“Alternatives to detention” (ATD) run by ICE are an alternative form of detention. ATDs, like ankle monitors, have only proven to be another route to restrict and monitor immigrants, expanding the surveillance dragnet and further alienating immigrant communities. In fact, the number of people under ICE’s surveillance and control has risen in tandem with an alarming rise in the number of people in detention since President Biden took office.”

“We must see a permanent reduction of bed space and people in ICE custody. Detention, in all of its forms, must be abolished. Regardless of the conditions or justifications, any length of time in detention inflicts unnecessary trauma.” 

The Dilley and Karnes Family Detention Centers are on Detention Watch Network’s ‘First Ten’ to Communities Not Cages list that demanded the shut down of 10 immigrant detention centers in Biden’s first year of office.


Detention Watch Network (DWN) is a national coalition of organizations and individuals working to expose and challenge the injustices of the United States’ immigration detention and deportation system and advocate for profound change that promotes the rights and dignity of all persons. Founded in 1997 by immigrant rights groups, DWN brings together advocates to unify strategy and build partnerships on a local and national level to end immigration detention. Visit Follow on Twitter @DetentionWatch.