Trump Administration Plans to Scrap Limits on Migrant-Family Detentions

A fenced area holding families at a Border Patrol station in McAllen, Texas, June 10, 2019 (Office of Inspector General/DHS/Reuters)

The Trump administration on Wednesday announced plans to release a new rule allowing migrant families to remain in detention for the duration of their immigration proceedings, in its latest effort to tighten U.S. immigration policies.

The new rule would scrap the Flores consent decree, a federal court agreement that had required children to be released from detention after 20 days. It will also set up new standards for living conditions in detention centers, which will be regularly audited for compliance.

The Trump administration has pointed to the Flores agreement as a magnet for the illegal immigration of families, because potential migrants know they will be quickly released into the country under the “catch-and-release” policy necessitated by the agreement.

“Large numbers of alien families are entering illegally across the southern border, hoping that they will be released into the interior rather than detained during their removal proceedings,” read a statement from the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Health and Human Services.

“This rule allows the federal government to enforce immigration laws as passed by Congress,” acting DHS secretary Kevin McAleenan said in a statement.

McAleenan said earlier this month that border crossings have declined 43 percent since May, when arrests between ports of entry at the southern border increased by thousands for the fourth straight month.

The rule will be effective 60 days after Friday, when it is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register.

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