DHS moves to end limits on detention of migrant families, close ‘loophole’

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The Trump administration announced Wednesday it would move to scrap a major court agreement in order to allow for migrant families to be detained longer as their cases are being considered, instead of having to release them after 20 days.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan, in a press conference detailing the decision, claimed that the long-standing court order known as the Flores agreement has incentivized illegal immigration and represents a “loophole” in the immigration system.

That agreement prohibited children from being kept in detention for more than 20 days. As a result, officials were releasing entire families to keep them from being separated — though last year, the administration did separate families as part of a “zero tolerance” program that eventually was stopped amid a bipartisan outcry.

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“Today, the government has issued a critical rule that will permit the Department of Homeland Security to appropriately hold families together and improve the integrity of the immigration system,” McAleenan said. “This rule allows the federal government to enforce immigration laws as passed by Congress and ensures that all children in U.S. government custody are treated with dignity, respect, and special concern for their particular vulnerability.”

The Flores ruling came about as a result of a 1980s case in which a girl named Jenny Flores, then 15, was detained with adults by U.S. authorities after she fled El Salvador. Beginning in 1997, the Flores settlement called for migrant children to be sent to care programs after 20 days, and be given access to medical treatment and visits with relatives. McAleenan said the new rule takes the place of Flores, while keeping many of its terms. – READ MORE

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