Trump Administration to Remove 20-Day Limit for Detaining Migrant Families

FILE – In this Sept. 10, 2014, file photo, detained immigrant children line up in the cafeteria at the Karnes County Residential Center, a detention center for immigrant families, in Karnes City, Texas. The Trump administration stopped using the center to hold parents and children in March 2019. It’s cut back on family detention even as it complains it has to “catch and release” migrant families, many of them Central American parents and children who seek asylum. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

The Trump administration announced on Wednesday that it intends to hold migrant families in detention for the duration of their immigration proceedings, with no limit on the time they can be detained.

The new rule, announced by acting Department of Homeland Security chief Kevin McAleenan, may be in defiance of a 2015 federal court ruling known as the Flores agreement that limited the time families could be detained to 20 days.

Although the rule is expected to be published in the federal register on Friday with the effective date of 60 days, the administration expects court challenges that could prolong or even stop the rule from going in place altogether, the officials said.

The move could affect thousands of migrant families.

The Flores agreement said all facilities holding children for longer than 20 days must be licensed by states. But no state had licensed a family center for immigrant families.

The work-around the administration is proposing is to declare that ICE detention centers for families are compliant with the agreement because they are licensed by ICE, not a state.

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SOURCE: NBC News, Julia Ainsley