The Trump administration announced rules that would permit it to detain apprehended illegal immigrant children with their parents, the Washington Free Beacon reported.
“The proposed rule, if implemented, would void the court settlement that has governed the detention of children since the mid 1990s, and which has proved troublesome to the White House attempts to crack down on illegal immigration.
“Detention of children apprehended crossing the border illegally is currently governed by the 1997 agreement that resolved litigation between a group of unaccompanied minors and the Clinton administration. The deal, which settled Flores v. Reno, is commonly called the Flores Settlement Agreement (FSA).”
Among other things, Flores specified that children in immigration custody must be “released from custody without unnecessary delay.” This has set a 20-day limit on the detention of children. Flores also requires that children be held in the “least restrictive setting appropriate to age and special needs.”
Most importantly, the new rules proposed Thursday would permit the detention of family units together for more than the 20-day window and in a Family Residential Center. The administration contends that this helps to bring child detention in line with the needs and priorities of immigration policy in 2018.
“Today, legal loopholes significantly hinder the Department’s ability to appropriately detain and promptly remove family units that have no legal basis to remain in the country,” said DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in a statement. “This rule addresses one of the primary pull factors for illegal immigration and allows the federal government to enforce immigration laws as passed by Congress.”
One House Democrat has already condemned the rule, and once the rule is finalized, it is likely to face challenges in the same court of law where Flores was initially settled.