Wednesday, 18 September, 2019

Trump administration moves to end limits on child detention

Children detained Trump administration takes aim at the Flores settlement — one of the biggest loopholes driving the current border crisis
Patty Aguilar | 22 August, 2019, 08:10

The Trump administration is moving to end a long-standing federal court agreement that limits how long immigrant children can be kept in detention, a decision that will nearly certainly lead to a new court fight over the government's ability to hold migrant families until their cases are decided.

The latest action tears apart the Flores Settlement Agreement that had placed limits on how long children of families seeking asylum could be held in detention, enabling the USA government to release tens of thousands of families pending the resolution of their cases.

"The detention of children can lead to trauma, suicidal feelings, and exposure to dangerously inadequate medical care", said Clara Long, acting deputy Washington director at Human Rights Watch.

The Trump administration is moving to end a federal agreement that limits how long immigrant children can be kept in detention.

The new rules, which are certain to draw a legal challenge, would replace a 1997 legal agreement that limits the amount of time US immigration authorities can detain migrant children.

The Flores agreement established that when families with children were captured and detained, they had to be released in less than two dozen days to a family member or guardian in the USA - and if that was not possible they had to be transferred to a care facility that does not operate like a jail.

Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan, announcing the new rule, said those releases were an incentive for immigrants to travel with children and that the government believes the new detention rule will have a deterrent effect. Make no mistake: "this new rule is about letting President Trump and Stephen Miller keep children in bad conditions for longer periods of times and continue the administration's horrid treatment of innocent migrant families fleeing unthinkable hardship". The administration unveiled a sweeping rule last week that would deny visas and permanent residency to poor migrants, a move that experts say could cut legal immigration in half.

Asylum cases involving detained families move much more quickly than cases for families released, taking months instead of years to resolve, in part because there are none of the delays that result when immigrants fail to show up for hearings.

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The new rule is due to take effect in 60 days, but that deadline is likely to slip as it is certain to face numerous legal challenges.

'This will effectively end Catch and Release and curb illegal entries, " Trump posted to his Twitter.

They say the Trump administration has harmed migrant children by holding them in squalid conditions on the border and forcibly separating hundreds from their parents and should not be given wider latitude to detain them.

"The administration is seeking to codify child abuse, plain and simple", House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, said in a statement, adding that she expected a federal judge would strike down the new rule.

The government operates three family detention centres that can hold a total of about 3,000 people. One facility is limited to adults.

DHS officials said in a briefing Tuesday that they have no immediate plans to increase the number of family detention beds.

In the wake of the outcry, the Trump administration tried a year ago to supercede Flores and detain migrants indefinitely.

"Thousands of kids separated from their parents".

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