After battling the courts, the Trump Administration is now attempting to bypass the judicial system in an attempt at detaining migrant families for longer periods of time than is currently legal.

Since 1997, the Flores Settlement Agreement has safeguarded migrant families from long-term detainment by restricting authorities from holding migrant children for more than 20 days. At this point, the consent decree requires that the children be released, typically with their families, until their cases are settled in immigration court.

The Trump administration is now attempting to pass an order that requires migrant children and families to be detained until their court cases are settled, a process which can take up to several months. According to Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, the goal of rule is to address “one of the the primary pull factors for illegal immigration.” This “legal loophole,” argues the administration, is that migrants purposely bring their children to the border to avoid longer periods of detention. Many immigration advocates have since decried the argument as insensitive and deeply troubling.



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“Efforts to weaken or eliminate basic child protection standards by calling them a burden or loopholes, and eliminating their obligations for the basic care of children, is just another example of the administration’s abdication of human rights,” said Michelle Brané, director of the migrant rights and justice program at the Women’s Refugee Commission.

In order to accommodate the extended holdings of these families, the government has proposed building a greater network of licensed facilities. But it has not yet given details as to the operation of these facilities.

The regulation was proposed last Thursday and is set to take effect 60 days from then, but is expected to be challenged in the courts before that point. 

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