Trump's Administration Seeks to Detain Migrant Children Longer

© AP Photo / Maximo MusielikA migrant father and child rest outside the El Chaparral port of entry building at the US-Mexico border in Tijuana, Mexico
A migrant father and child rest outside the El Chaparral port of entry building at the US-Mexico border in Tijuana, Mexico - Sputnik International
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – The Trump administration is trying to end a legal agreement that currently limits the number of days the federal government can detain immigrant children, an unpublished regulation in the Federal Register revealed on Thursday.

“The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) ('the Departments') propose to amend regulations relating to the apprehension, processing, care, custody, and release of alien juveniles,” said the proposed regulation, which is set to be published in the Federal Register on Friday.

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The proposed regulation would terminate the 1997 Flores Settlement Agreement, a binding court deal between the government and immigrant rights litigants that states that migrant children can only be held in detention for 20 days.

Though Flores would be thrown out, the federal government would still uphold the initial goal of the agreement by ensuring that all children in its custody are treated with dignity, respect, and special concern for their particular vulnerability as minors, according to the text of the regulation.

But immigrant children would be detained for as long as it takes to complete immigration proceedings under the new regulation.

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After publishing the proposed regulation in the Federal Register, the government will open a 60-day period for public comments before it goes into effect, according to the document.

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In June, Trump signed an executive order directing his administration to seek changes in the Flores agreement in order to detain children longer. In 1997, the 9th Circuit federal court ruled that under the agreement, the United States cannot hold immigrant children for more than 20 days, even if they are with their parents.

Trump was forced to issue an order to halt family separations at the border after viral images of kids locked in cages sparked outrage across the political spectrum and drew intense levels of international opprobrium.

As a result of the “zero-tolerance” policy, about 2,600 immigrant children were forcibly separated from their parents this spring following arrests in connection with illegal entry into the United States.

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