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It is important to note that children who end up in INS detention centers in the United States are not criminal detainees, but rather, administrative detainees. That is, they are not being held because they are accused or convicted of crimes. They are being held for two reasons only. First, the INS holds them in order to ensure their presence at immigration proceedings. They fear that if they let a child out, into foster care for instance, that child might not appear at any subsequent hearings or proceedings. Second, the government is legally required to look after these children in some way. Many of these children have no adult family members or guardians, and although they are undocumented, the United States has an obligation to be in loco parentis to these children for as long as they remain in the country. For reasons that are, the author thinks, obvious, the INS cannot take an unaccompanied fourteen-year-old who has no means of support and no family members, and just shove her out onto the streets to fend for herself.

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5 Geo. J. on Fighting Poverty 279-284 (1998)