Trump unveils plan to indefinitely detain migrant children

Trump administration takes aim at the Flores settlement — one of the biggest loopholes driving the current border crisis

Trump administration takes aim at the Flores settlement — one of the biggest loopholes driving the current border crisis

Trump administration moves to terminate court agreement, hold migrant children and parents longer" - "The Trump administration is moving to formally terminate a federal court settlement restricting how long US officials can detain migrant children with their parents and replace it with a new rule that could expand family detention and dramatically increase the time children spend in custody.

However, the rule wasn't enacted at that time because of the lack of space in detention centers to house the children for longer periods of time.

The 20-day limit on holding children has been in place since 2015, which rose out of a 1997 court-ordered consent decree after a federal class action lawsuit alleged the conditions of detention facilities are unsuitable for children. But the rules would allow the government to hold families in detention until their immigration cases are completed, which could be much longer than 20 days.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan announced Wednesday a new regulation that would "terminate" the decades-old landmark court settlement known as the Flores Agreement.

Peter Schey, a lawyer for the immigrant children in the Flores case and president of the Centre for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, said if the regulations don't match the settlement in that case, "they would be in immediate material breach, if not contempt of court".

The latest Trump administration attempt to limit illegal migration follows a week after it announced steps to limit legal migration, including a declaration that by seeking government benefits, migrants would jeopardize their chances of becoming permanent residents. Most are released into the United States while their asylum requests wind through the courts - a practice Trump has derided as "catch-and-release".

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Families typically wait several months for their cases to work their way through immigration court, and the new rule would allow the DHS to keep those families at detention facilities. One facility is limited to adults.

DHS officials say they have apprehended 390,000 family units since last October.

There has been a drastic increase in the number of families crossing the border - about 475,000 so far this budget year, almost three times the previous full-year record for families.

"Having seen first-hand the terrible conditions the Trump administration subjects many migrant families to, it is imperative that the courts immediately block this rule from going into effect", the New York Democrat said. Homeland Security officials say by adopting the standards for education, healthy food and cleanliness used by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which detains adult immigrants, they are satisfying requirements in lieu of state licensing requirements. Parents went to criminal court and then immigration detention, while their children were sent to federal shelters.

In a June 20, 2018, order, Trump ended the separations and directed the attorney general to ask Gee to let the government detain families together "throughout the pendency of criminal proceedings for improper entry or any removal or other immigration proceedings".

Merkley, one of the original members of Congress to bring the detention issue to national attention in 2017, has proposed a solution: bringing back the family case management program.

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