Immigration and Customs Enforcement will no longer coordinate plans for asylum-seeking families in Arizona, specifically, those that are released from custody but still awaiting a court hearing on their request, according to CNN.
Prior to Sunday, ICE carried out reviews that included coordinating with NGOs, confirming bus routes, and communicating with family members to ensure that asylum seekers were able to reach their final destination, the agency says.
ICE spokesperson Yasmeen Pitts O’Keefe says the reviews were not required and that they were a “self-imposed process.” She cites the high volume of family units presenting themselves along the Arizona border as the primary reason for the change in procedure.
“ICE no longer has the capacity to conduct these reviews without risking violation of the Flores limitations on lengths of stay for minors in both [Customs and Border Protection] CBP and ICE custody,” O’Keefe said in a statement.
The Flores settlement limits how long undocumented children can be detained to 20 days. The reviews can delay the release of families by several days and are “time and resource intensive,” according to ICE.
The agency’s decision to no longer coordinate plans for asylum-seeking families in Arizona could create the need for more non-governmental agencies to provide assistance as families continue to be released without a reviewed communications and travel plan.
One such agency is the Shadow Rock United Church of Christ in Phoenix, which is currently providing shelter to 100 families and individuals released from ICE custody. “We will provide a safe place to sleep, food to eat, showers and companionship to our neighbors while they prepare for the next leg of their journey,” Shadow Rock said in a press release Tuesday.