Trump Administration Announces Rule to Enable Detaining Immigrant Families Indefinitely


"For the sake of thousands of immigrant families, the courts must halt this policy before it ever goes into practice".

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

"Clearly, I think it will be rejected by the courts, and the answer to your question is California will once again assert itself in the court of law", the governor said of the administration's new regulations.

DHS officials said Tuesday that detaining and deporting even a small fraction of the families, perhaps 5% to 10% of apprehensions, could send a powerful message to smugglers and would-be migrants in Central America.

The dip comes after Trump made an agreement with the Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador for the government to deploy Mexican security forces to help crack down on asylum seekers on their side of the border. Stripping away those rules would only result in the deaths of more migrant children. It concerned Jenny Flores, then 15, who was detained with adults by federal authorities after fleeing El Salvador.

But Flores was detained by federal authorities at the US border for not having proper documentation permitting her to stay in the U.S.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi slammed the Trump administration's determination to roll back rules related to the detention of migrants, calling it an attempt to "codify child abuse, plain and simple".

But the primary legacy of the case was the subsequent settlement, to which both the Clinton administration and the plaintiffs agreed in 1997.

The Flores agreement established that when families with children were captured and detained, they had to be released in less than two dozen days to a family member or guardian in the USA - and if that was not possible they had to be transferred to a care facility that does not operate like a jail.

Although the settlement was agreeable to the Clinton administration, the Trump administration strongly desires to detain families, including children, for periods longer than permitted by the Flores settlement - in fact, indefinitely.

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On Tuesday, the officials said that the new regulation would send a strong message that bringing children to the U.S. was not "a passport" to being released from detention.

In the USA, immigrant advocates and Democrats decried the new regulations, saying prolonged detention would traumatize immigrant children.

The Flores settlement stems from a 1985 federal court case that was eventually argued before the Supreme Court.

The government operates three family detention centers that can hold a total of about 3,000 people. If a guardian or parent treated an American child with the kind of callous indifference, cruelty, neglect and disdain given to migrant children by the government, those parents would be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and likely jailed. Not surprisingly, the court flatly rejected the government's claim.

"This is yet another cruel attack on children, who the Trump administration has targeted again and again with its anti-immigrant policies", said American Civil Liberties Union official Madhuri Grewal.

The courts consistently have denied these requests and have continued to monitor the detention of migrant children, as the Flores settlement requires them to do.

Homeland security officials believe that time limits on the detentions of migrant families have driven the surge of Central Americans crossing the border into the USA this year.

The rule is slated to take effect on October 23.

Over the last four years, only 18% of immigrants who have been released into the United States complied with a court order to leave the country, while 97% of those in detention were removed, according to DHS figures.