Migrant mothers separated from their children are being held without bond at the Calhoun County Jail following a raid in Sandusky, Ohio on June 5. More than 100 arrests were made in the military-style raid, and a group of about 30 women were sent to the Calhoun County Jail, which is housing detainees under a contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The Calhoun County jail does not house detainees from border enforcement. However, stepped-up interior enforcement actions are also leading to family separations. Most of the 30 women have children who were left with caregivers or home alone at the end of the day when one or both parents didn’t return.
According to Veronica Dahlgren, an immigration advocate with HOLA, in the past when immigration authorities made those kinds of arrests, people would often be released on bond the same day, and could pursue an appeal of their case with the agency.
“No more," Dahlgren said. "There’s nobody to talk to, there’s nobody to hold accountable because ICE doesn’t answer to anybody. Not to our senators, not to our congressmen. They simply are operating with impunity."
She says the raid has devastated the community and left some children without parents or means of support.
Hillary Scholten is an attorney with the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center. She says detentions of undocumented immigrants who are not charged with other crimes have increased significantly in the past year.
“ICE has a number of alternatives at its disposal: electronic monitoring, supervised release," Scholten says. "But here we see ICE using the most expensive and the most restrictive means possible, which is detention, keeping families separate and apart and costing the taxpayers a lot of money.”
The Calhoun County Jail has also recently switched to a video-only format for visitation, meaning that those mothers who receive visits from their children will not be able to see them face-to-face. Visits can be made remotely, but there is a charge that few can afford, Dahlgren says.