United States to allow indefinite detention of migrant children: DHS

The proposed rules would replace a 1997 legal agreement that limits the amount of time US immigration authorities can detain migrant children generally interpreted as meaning families must be released within 20 days

The proposed rules would replace a 1997 legal agreement that limits the amount of time US immigration authorities can detain migrant children generally interpreted as meaning families must be released within 20 days

The new rules, which are certain to draw a legal challenge, would replace a 1997 legal agreement that limits the amount of time USA immigration authorities can detain migrant children.

On Wednesday, Trump told reporters his administration was seriously looking at ending the right of citizenship for children born to noncitizens within the United States. The administration unveiled a sweeping rule last week that would deny visas and permanent residency to poor migrants, a move that experts say could cut legal immigration in half if it survives court challenges. "It bothers me very greatly", Trump said.

The administration framed the policy as a humane approach to a crisis in which a record number of mostly Central Americans have sought asylum in the United States.

He said the new rule is aimed at reducing migrant flows to the USA, and would "protect children by eliminating incentives for adults" to come to the US with children.

Congressman Joaquin Castro, the chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said in a statement that the administration is "punishing vulnerable families".

Critics counter that Trump and Stephen Miller, his aide on immigration, are using a series of heartless policies to animate hardcore political supporters and discourage migrants from fleeing their impoverished and violence-ridden homelands.

"The cruelty of the Trump administration knows no bounds".

"With the Flores fix today, something Congress should have done a long time ago, we're looking forward to seeing less and less family units coming across the border", Cuccinelli said. "The requirements that help ensure that all alien children (both accompanied minors and unaccompanied alien children) in the Government's custody are treated with dignity, respect, and special concern for their particular vulnerability as minors".

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"As the American Academy of Pediatrics has written, 'No child should be placed in detention...even short periods of detention can cause psychological trauma and long-term mental health risks", said Pelosi, a California Democrat.

The so-called Flores settlement requires the government to keep children in the least restrictive setting and to release them as quickly as possible - generally after 20 days in detention - to, in order of preference, parents, other adult relatives or licensed programs willing to accept custody.

The rule seeks to replace the longstanding Flores court settlement that imposed detention standards and time limits.

"Today, the government has issued a critical rule that will permit the Department of Homeland Security to appropriately hold families together and improve the integrity of the immigration system", said Kevin McAleenan, acting secretary of the department, in a statement.

McAleenan said that in the 10 months to July, some 475,000 people in family units crossed the border illegally from Mexico, aiming to stay in the United States.

"No child should be a pawn", McAleenan said at a news conference announcing the rule. It will take effect 60 days after it is formally published later this week. The implementation deadline could slip, however, depending on the success of the likely court challenges.

Although there was a massive dip in illegal border crossing during Trump's first year in the White House, the frequency spiked in late 2018, and border agents and officials lamented they were not prepared for the influx, leading to overcrowding and unsanitary conditions at many detention facilities.

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