Families crossing the border may no longer be subjected to long term detention if they are able to show eligibility for asylum or other immigration reliefs.

Last year the U.S. experienced an increase in women and children crossing the borders. Initially, many were released with notices to appear due to the lack of appropriate holding facilities. However, the Obama Administration eventually opened family detention centers. Critics of family detention centers allege that they are in poor conditions and point to reports of abuse against the families at the hand of immigration officials. Additionally, critics argue that it is wrong to treat women and children fleeing violence in their countries as criminals once they arrive to the U.S.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson recently stated that “once a family has established eligibility for asylum or other relief under our laws, long-term detention is an inefficient use of our resources and should be discontinued.” While this is a step in the right direction, it is simply not enough.

The new policy grants families relief from long-term detention and only if they are able to show eligibility for asylum or other immigration relief. But, it can take weeks for an individual to obtain an interview with an asylum officer and a week or two extra after that for a decision to be made. Meanwhile, detention has traumatic physical and psychological effects, especially on children.

Furthermore, families eligible for release are still required to pay bond. Although Secretary Johnson announced that families would pay a “realistic” bond based on “their ability to pay,” flight risk, and threat to public safety, many of the families crossing the border come from severely limited financial resources. Advocates argue that a better solution for family detention is to release all families with the condition that they report periodically with DHS. Finally, the policy changes do not address the moral issue the U.S. is treating women and children, many who claim to be victims of violence, as criminals.