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Criminal law

Biden Administration Shortens Detention of Migrant Families to 72 Hours

Hoping to prevent the detention of migrant families for weeks or months at a time, the Biden administration plans to release parents and children within 72 hours of their arrival in the United States, a new policy that already is being carried out along the Texas border, reports the New York Times. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will now hold families only for the time required to schedule court dates, conduct COVID-19 tests and arrange for them to be transferred to shelters, where volunteers and aid workers help schedule their travel to join relatives already in the country. Roughly 100 families per day would be processed and released from two existing family residential centers in Texas. Those who test positive for the coronavirus would remain in isolation at a border facility for 10 days. As of Thursday, several dozen migrants traveling as families were being held at a facility in Karnes City, Texas, and more than 300 at another, in Dilley, Texas.

The two detention centers have a combined capacity of 3,200. Erica Schommer, a law professor at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, called the new 72-hour policy a “positive” sign but cautioned that any detentions of children raised concerns because of research showing that children in such conditions suffered long-term damage. By law, the government cannot keep migrant children in holding facilities at the border for more than 72 hours; it must either transfer them to a shelter or release them, and the government is mostly able to comply. The new policy pertains mainly to the detention centers where many of them are sent next; under the Flores agreement, the government must not detain children in any facility for more than 20 days, and that deadline has often been missed in the past. The release of those families to bus stations in communities struggling with the pandemic has prompted a backlash from conservatives and local leaders, who complain that some of the migrants recently arriving in the United States have tested positive for the coronavirus.…

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Criminal law

State Republican Lawmakers Move Against Federal Gun Restrictions

In response to the Biden administration’s push for new federal gun-control laws, Republican lawmakers have introduced legislation in at least a dozen states that seek to nullify any new firearm restrictions, such as ammunition limits or a ban on certain types of weapons, and, in some cases, would even make it a crime for local police officers to enforce federal gun laws, reports the Associated Press. A Missouri measure passed by the state House that would allow police departments with officers who enforce federal gun laws to be sued and face a $50,000 fine and the Utah state House passed a bill with a similar provision forbidding the enforcement of federal gun laws. These laws can create confusion for officers who often work with federal law enforcement, said Daniel Isom, a former chief of the St. Louis Police Department who is now a senior advisor for Everytown for Gun Safety. Federal law plays a big role in some areas, such as keeping guns away from domestic violence offenders.

Most of the latest crop of federal nullification proposals focus on police officers inside their states who primarily enforce state rather than federal laws. Federal nullification bills have been introduced in more than a dozen other states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Wyoming, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia and Iowa. In Texas, the governor has called for the state to become a Second Amendment sanctuary. Many Republican state lawmakers see attempts to pass federal firearms restrictions as a threat to the Second Amendment.