According to The Newyork Times, the Trump administration on Wednesday unveiled a regulation to allow it to indefinitely detain migrant families who illegally cross the border. The rule replaces a decades-old court agreement that mandates a level of care for migrant children and limits how long the government can hold them in custody.
The White House has for more than a year pressed the Department of Homeland Security to find a way to eliminate the agreement, known as the Flores settlement, which limits the time children can spend in detention and establishes minimum standards for the holding facilities for families and children. Immigration hard-liners inside the administration say the move is crucial to halting the flow of migrants across the southwestern border.
The administration’s goal with the new rule is deterrence, and its message to families fleeing Central American is blunt: Come here and we will lock you up. Critics say it is the latest in a series of policies by President Trump meant to close off the United States from the rest of the world.
“One of the things that will happen, when they realize the borders are closing — the wall is being built, we are building tremendous numbers of miles of wall right now in different locations — it all comes together like a beautiful puzzle,” Mr. Trump said Wednesday.
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Speaking to reporters at the White House, Mr. Trump asserted that the new rule would “make it almost impossible for people to come into our country illegally.”
The new regulation will require approval from a federal judge, and administration officials said they expected it to be immediately challenged in court. But once in effect, it would specifically abolish a 20-day limit on detaining families in immigration jails, a cap that Mr. Trump has repeatedly complained has led to the “catch and release” of families from Central America and elsewhere into the United States.