Immigration authorities have reportedly released hundreds of migrant families from detention in Phoenix without following the usual protocols to ensure the migrants can find U.S.-based family members and attend upcoming court hearings. A senior Department of Homeland Security official told NBC News the abrupt move is “the start of a dam breaking” as family detention centers become increasingly overloaded. “You’ll start to see this all across the southern border soon,” the official was quoted as saying. Yasmeen O’Keefe, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, told NBC a new policy had come into effect in Arizona starting Oct. 7 under which immigration authorities no longer review each immigrant’s travel plans prior to release. She said the policy was enacted to avoid violating the Flores settlement, a federal court agreement that limits the time children can be held in custody to 20 days. The mass release has reportedly left Arizona churches and nonprofit organizations scrambling to care for hundreds of migrants who had no means of traveling to find relatives and no way to afford shelter.
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