The United States (US) government is expected on Wednesday to announce a new regulation that would allow for the detention of migrant families beyond the 20-day limit for holding children, two administration officials, according to a CNN report.
The regulation seeks to replace the so-called Flores Settlement Agreement, which requires that migrant children not be held in federal custody longer than 20 days. ABC was first to report on the new regulation.
A separate administration official says the basic idea is “to restore integrity through the process” because families could exploit the loophole, with the understanding that if they make it to the US as a family unit they’ll be released soon.
The official says that there will be provisions under the rule for parole and bonding out that are “very lenient.” The families who are not released will be held at family residential centres run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement throughout the parent’s immigration proceedings.
More details about the proposed regulation are expected from the administration as soon as Wednesday.
According to CNN, the Flores Agreement stems from the decades-old settlement Flores v. Reno. The Trump administration has complained the detention time limit set by the agreement forces them to either release the immigrant families together or separate them ― an area of significant controversy.
Key provisions of the agreement also dictate minimum standards of care of immigrants in detention
The agreement was named for Jenny Lisette Flores, a 15-year-old girl from El Salvador. She fled her country in 1985 and tried to enter the United States to be with her aunt. Immigration and Naturalization Services arrested her at the border, and she was placed in a juvenile detention centre, where she was handcuffed and strip-searched, according to the Marquette Law Review.
The INS refused to grant her aunt custody of Jenny because it wouldn’t release minors to “third-party adults,” the law review article said. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a class-action suit on behalf of the girl and other minors, eventually leading to the Flores Agreement during the Clinton administration.
In May, a court-ordered effort to identify immigrant families that the US government separated at the southern border found more than 1,700 cases of possible separation.