Trump officials unveil rule allowing indefinite migrant family detentions

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The Trump administration on Wednesday said it would unveil a new rule that would allow migrant families to be held indefinitely, ending a procedure known as the Flores Settlement Agreement that requires children to be held no longer than 20 days.

The decision is a momentous change in detainee policy that the administration has sought as a disincentive for people crossing the border. 

“This rule allows the federal government to enforce immigration laws as passed by Congress,” acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said in a statement.

Under the new system, immigrant families could be held for the duration of their court proceedings, which officials claim could be resolved within three months.

McAleenan said the new rule takes aim at a 2015 "reinterpretation of the Flores Settlement Agreement" in which a California district court ruled accompanied minors are subject to the same detention limits as unaccompanied minors.

The 2015 change, McAleenan said, "has generally forced the government to release families into the country after just 20 days, incentivizing illegal entry, adding to the growing backlog in immigration proceedings, and often delaying immigration proceedings for many years."

The Trump administration has frequently blamed Flores for the spike in family border crossings over the last few years, claiming the promise of eventual release creates an incentive to enter the country illegally. On Wednesday, it defended the change as closing a “loophole exploited by human smugglers.”

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), however, panned the move, saying it will "put even more stress on our immigration system and add to the chaos the Administration continues to create."

“The Trump Administration has managed to find a new low in its continued despicable treatment of migrant children and families. Terminating the Flores settlement is illegal and goes against our longstanding American values about the treatment of children," Thompson said in a statement.

The new rule would establish new standards for conditions in detention centers while simultaneously removing the 20-day maximum detention limit that has existed since the original 1997 court ruling.

"Large numbers of alien families are entering illegally across the southern border, hoping that they will be released into the interior rather than detained during their removal proceedings," the two agencies that created the rule, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Health and Human Services, said in a statement.

"Promulgating this rule and seeking termination of the FSA [Flores Settlement Agreement] are important steps towards an immigration system that is humane and operates consistently with the intent of Congress."

The rule will be published in the Federal Register on Friday and will be effective 60 days later — if it is approved by the courts.

Read the entire article here: https://thehill.com/latino/458218-trump-officials-unveil-rule-allowing-indefinite-migrant-family-detentions

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