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Immigrant minors being detained longer than allowed, study shows

Back in April, we tackled the surprising behavior that is occurring in immigration court rooms across the nation.  As we discussed in the post, minors, some even barely old enough to talk, are facing deportation proceedings without assistance from legal counsel.  And while this is going on in the courtroom, another breakdown in the system appears to be occurring to minors who are detained by agents from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

According to the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, unaccompanied immigrant minors are required to be transferred to the federal Department of Health and Human Services within 72 hours of apprehension.  This goes for minors not only in Florida but in all other states across the nation.  Even representatives from ICE agreed, stating that its agents take these laws very seriously and says that it's even against ICE policies to detain an unaccompanied minor in one of their detention facilities for longer than 72 hours, even if they are waiting for transfer to the HHS.

But recent statistical data collected by a Chicago-based immigrant advocacy group seems to suggest otherwise. The data, which was obtained as part of a settlement recently, contains records from 30 of the more than 200 adult immigration detention facilities across the country. According to their findings, more than a thousand immigrant minors were held in adult detention centers for more than three days between 2008 and 2012 in Illinois alone. The number of could be significantly more if you take into consideration the other detention centers across the nation.

While the immigrant-advocacy group's data only found a serious breakdown in how Illinois facilities handle immigration law, some residents here in Florida might wonder if our state could have a similar problem. Though we might not have the information to answer that question now, there's no telling what might be uncovered in the future.

Source: wbez.org, "Study: Undocumented immigrant youth languish in adult jails," Odette Yousef, June 5, 2013

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