The Biden administration is rolling out a new program for migrant families released in the United States to track them as they go through a speedy deportation process, including a measure that would require they stay under home confinement, according to multiple sources familiar with the plans.
The so-called Family Expedited Removal Management (FERM) will place certain heads of household for families on an alternative to detention, such as a GPS ankle monitor, and subject them to curfew in four cities, Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed in a statement.
The Los Angeles Times first reported on the program.
The families still have the opportunity to claim asylum under the program and if they qualify, go through the asylum process. Families not found to have credible fear are subject to removal under the fast-track deportation process, known as “expedited removal,” which would bar them from the US for five years.
The program is one of many initiatives being rolled out by the Biden administration to try to manage the flow of migrants at the US-Mexico border – in this case, families – following the expiration of a Covid-era border restriction, known as Title 42.
“[Enforcement and Removal Operations] is committed to imposing immigration consequences in a safe and humane manner to those who unlawfully enter the United States,” said ICE ERO Executive Associate Director Corey Price in a statement.
“Families should not listen to the lies of smugglers. Like single adults, noncitizens travelling with their children who do not have a lawful basis to remain in the United States will be quickly removed and barred from reentry for at least five years,” the statement continued.
Last year, ICE piloted a similar program with migrants who resided in Baltimore and Houston and set a curfew from dusk until dawn.
Administration officials have been racing to deal with a significant increase in the number of migrants trying to cross into the US as Title 42 – a pandemic-era rule that has allowed authorities to swiftly expel migrants encountered at the border – is set to expire.
The Biden administration came under fierce criticism earlier this year amid reports that officials were considering restarting family detention, a practice that had been ended by President Joe Biden. Officials have since maintained that there are no plans to return the practice.
But the high number of border arrests in recent days has put the challenge facing the administration into sharp focus.
US border authorities encountered more than 10,000 migrants along the US southern border on Tuesday, according to a Homeland Security official, already surpassing government estimates for the Title 42 aftermath.
Among the new policy measures the administration is putting into place is a new asylum rule that will largely bar migrants who passed through another country from seeking asylum in the US. The rule, proposed earlier this year, will presume migrants are ineligible for asylum in the US if they didn’t first seek refuge in a country they transited through, like Mexico, on the way to the border. Migrants who secure an appointment through the CBP One app will be exempt, according to officials.
This story has been updated with additional details.
CORRECTION: The headline and story have been updated to reflect The Los Angeles Times was the first to report on the program’s roll out.