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article imageWhite House plans to get around rule for detaining migrant kids

By Karen Graham     Sep 6, 2018 in Politics
Washington - The Trump administration officially has a plan to detain families who enter the US without legal status for as long as it deems necessary, and the country will hear all about it tomorrow.
Someone in the Trump administration has figured out a way to circumvent a longstanding court agreement that governs how children are treated in while in immigration custody. Under the proposed regulations to be released Friday, the White House will seek to terminate the Flores agreement as part of the administration's continuing effort to keep thousands of undocumented families arriving at the border seeking asylum.
The Flores Agreement refers to the Supreme Court Case, Reno vs. Flores in 1993. The Supreme Court held that the Immigration and Naturalization Service’s regulations regarding the release of alien unaccompanied minors did not violate the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution.
However, in 1997, after the Supreme Court remanded the matter to the United States District Court for the Central District of California, both parties agreed to a consent decree in which the litigation would end once the government implemented certain standards for the detention, treatment, and release of alien minors.
President-elect Donald Trump Trump made controlling illegal immigration a key part of his pitch to A...
President-elect Donald Trump Trump made controlling illegal immigration a key part of his pitch to American voters, promising to deport 11 million undocumented migrants, whom he regularly portrayed as violent criminals
The Flores Agreement requires the government to release children from immigration detention without unnecessary delay to their parents, other adult relatives or licensed programs, It also requires immigration officials to give detained minors a certain quality of life, including things such as food, drinking water, medical assistance in emergencies, toilets, sinks, temperature control, supervision and as much separation from unrelated adults as possible, according to a Congressional Research Service report.
In 2015, a federal judge in California ruled that the Flores settlement also applies to undocumented children who arrive at the border with their parents. Basically, because of this ruling, immigration officials cannot hold an undocumented family in immigration detention facilities for more than 20 days and, under current practice, they are typically released while their immigration cases are pending, a process that can take several years, reports USA Today.
Demonstrators opposing the arrival of buses carrying undocumented women and children migrants for pr...
Demonstrators opposing the arrival of buses carrying undocumented women and children migrants for processing protest near the entrance to the US Border Patrol facility in Murrieta, California on July 7, 2014
Robyn Beck, AFP/File
Trump's take on the issue
The Trump administration says the Flores Agreement is nothing more than a "loophole," and argues that it encourages Central American families to make the dangerous trip through Mexico. The administration does not mention that most of these families are fleeing poverty, gang violence and political unrest in their own countries.
So, after being forced to back down from its "zero-tolerance policy," the administration has figured out a way to get around the Flores Agreement. On Friday, the departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services will officially publish a draft of the new regulation. You can find an "unpublished" version of the regulation online.
The White House seeks to terminate the Flores agreement and replace it with a new system that would let the government detain families for longer periods of time while their immigration cases are pending, and in some cases, this could lead to a year or more.
Undocumented immigrants  wearing shackles  are seen in a detention center in McAllen  Texas
Undocumented immigrants, wearing shackles, are seen in a detention center in McAllen, Texas
The proposed regulations still have to be finalized - and without a doubt, they will be challenged in court. But should the Trump administration succeed in this endeavor, the government will be able to "detain hundreds or thousands of immigrant families — and to place them in facilities with far looser standards, for far longer," according to
We'll give the government the last word on this issue. "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," Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, according to Reuters.
"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."
More about Trump administration, Flores agreement, Indefinite detention, humanitarian treatment, Undocumented immigrants
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