U.S. Immigrations and Custom Enforcement acknowledged Thursday night that it is transferring more than 1,600 people arrested at the U.S.-Mexico border to federal Bureau of Prisons facilities, including parents separated from their children. ICE said it will use 1,000 beds at a federal prison in Victorville, California; 209 beds in SeaTac, Washington; 230 beds in La Tuna, Texas; 230 beds in Sheridan, Oregon; and 102 beds in Phoenix. The use of federal prisons "is intended to be a temporary measure until ICE can obtain additional long-term contracts for new detention facilities or until the surge in illegal border crossings subsides," an ICE spokeswoman said.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) and Attorney General Bob Ferguson asked ICE for more information on the detentions Thursday night, arguing that "the Trump administration's new family separation policy is inflicting intentional, gratuitous, and permanent trauma on young children who have done nothing wrong and on parents who often have valid claims for refugee or asylum status." Crossing the border illegally is usually a misdemeanor, and historically, migrants with no criminal history who are seeking asylum or refugee status were released while their cases proceeded; Trump ended that policy in May.
Immigration advocates aren't the only one upset about ICE's new move. John Kostelnik, head of the union local that represents workers at the Victorville prison, warned in a letter that "we are not staffed adequately to accommodate this change in our mission."
On Wednesday, a federal judge in California criticized Trump's new policy of separating children from their parents at the border, saying the American Civil Liberties Union can move forward with its lawsuit to end the policy. If Trump's "zero tolerance" policy is being carried out as the ACLU describes, wrote U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw, a George W. Bush appointee, it is "brutal, offensive, and fails to comport with traditional notions of fair play and decency."