Trump Administration Fights To Keep Migrant Children In Custody Indefinitely
A new proposal from the administration will try to increase the limit on how long children can be kept in custody.
August 21, 2019 at 6:11 pm
The Trump administration announced plans Wednesday for a new rule, which would allow them to detain undocumented children and their parents indefinitely. The new rule has not yet been published, but according to BuzzFeed News, it would set out to replace a 1997 court settlement known as the Flores agreement, which limits government detention of children to 20 days.
The Flores agreement has been blamed by the administration for the high numbers of immigrant families arriving at the U.S.–Mexico border, with officials stating that Central American migrants hold the belief that they will be released from U.S. custody if they travel with a child.
"This single ruling has substantially caused and continued to fuel the current family unit crisis and the unprecedented flow of Central American families and minors illegally crossing our border," Kevin K. McAleenan, acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, said to BuzzFeed News. "The new rule closes the legal loophole that arose from the reinterpretation of Flores."
A proposed regulation of this rule, which was published in 2018, lets the government circumvent the agreement by allowing it to license its own facilities. The proposal also allows the government to set its own standards for the conditions in which it holds families, something that immigrant advocates believe the government can not be trusted with.
BREAKING: Reports broke last night that the Trump administration plans to dismantle the longstanding protections for immigrant children being held in detention. FBT Chairwoman @JessLivMo's statement: pic.twitter.com/X5x3XtFSOb
— Families Belong Together (@fams2gether) August 21, 2019
"This rule will separate more families and traumatize countless others in the process," Jess Morales Rocketto, chair of Families Belong Together, said in a statement. "The government needs to reunite families immediately, not expand the number of parents and children they jail with limited food, beds, toilets, or access to medical attention."
McAleenan tried to quell concerns over the conditions by making a promise to uphold values that all can be proud of while holding migrant children.
"All children in the government's care will be treated with dignity, respect, and special concern in conjunction with American values and faithful to the intent of the original settlement," McAleenan said at a press conference Wednesday morning, according to BuzzFeed News.
Once a final version of the rule is published, attorneys for plaintiffs in the Flores case will have 45 days to file a legal challenge if they believe the regulation isn't in line with the terms of the settlement agreement. U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee, who oversaw the settlement agreement, will need to approve the regulation.