Children who are held in immigration detention in Florida and across the country may face serious harm to their health and well-being. Over 10,000 of them are detained in different shelters nationwide, and several lawsuits say that the system is being used to punish children and their families and push them toward deportation. A federal mandate requires that children detained by immigration authorities be held in the least restrictive setting available, but many remain in government facilities despite having relatives in the United States who could care for them.
In a move that could help Florida families who were recently reunified, a federal judge has ordered the U.S. government to temporarily halt deportations for families who were separated at the Mexican border. More than 2,500 children between the ages of 5 and 17 were separated from their parents, and the federal government had begun an effort to reunite those families on the condition that the families would be deported together.
Florida residents are likely aware that the Trump administration's immigration policies have been the subject of much contentious debate. Immigrant advocacy groups have criticized the way U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents enforce these policies, and a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on May 17 alleges that the federal agency has routinely ignored its own policies and guidelines since the inauguration.
Those held in Florida or anywhere else awaiting pending immigration court proceedings don't have the right to an attorney. However, there was a program started in 2003 that held group sessions with detained immigrants to help them learn more about the immigration court system. The program, which costs about $8 million a year, was put on hold by the Department of Justice (DOJ) pending a further review.
Floridians might have heard about the U.S. veteran who was recently deported to Mexico. The man, who came to the U.S. legally with his father when he was 8 years old, was deported because of a drug conviction.
In Florida and other states that are home to large immigrant communities, many families live in fear that Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents will knock on their doors. This fear is a reflection of how the Trump administration has changed the rules to arrest more immigrants.
Immigrants who are in detention centers in Florida and around the country may face abuse from employees including sexual harassment and assault. Unfortunately, there are few protections for them in these situations.
Workers in Florida and elsewhere may not be forced to labor without compensation. Nine detainees at a facility in Aurora, Colorado, claim that they were forced to clean under a housing unit sanitation policy. The suit claims that the workers would be threatened with solitary confinement if they didn't agree to work without compensation, which they claim is in violation of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.
The situation of a 20-year-old young man detained on the West Coast illustrates the perils faced by people in Florida who lack acceptable immigration documentation. While driving with his girlfriend, the political science student encountered a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint. Agents arrested him and sent him to Otay Mesa Detention Center. This privately run prison is currently the target of a federal class-action lawsuit alleging that the facility breaks human trafficking laws.