Under a new plan unveiled Wednesday, dubbed the “Flores Fix” by the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. government could detain undocumented families “indefinitely.” This would replace the 1997 settlement of Flores v. Reno that set a 20-day limit for holding children. The proposed regulation must be approved by U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee in California, The Hill reports.
Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan says the motive for this sudden shift in policy is the increasing number of families and unaccompanied minors who are crossing the US-Mexico border.
This comes as another disheartening blow to undocumented families after the August 12 Trump administration public charge that “makes it more difficult for immigrants who rely on government assistance like Medicaid, subsidized housing and food stamps to obtain legal status,” reports CNN.
At a news conference on Wednesday, McAleenan discussed the new licensing authority the government is imposing saying, “… The new rule will restore integrity to our immigration system and eliminate the major pull factor fueling the [immigration] crisis.”
The administration claims that knowledge of an “eventual release” under the current Flores v. Reno is an “incentive” for families to enter the U.S. illegally.
While McAleenan feels this change will solve the high number of families immigrating, The Hill reports that Judge Gee disagrees. The request for more time to separate and detain immigrant children was denied by her last year.
The two agencies that created the rule, the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Health and Human Services, said in a statement, “Promulgating this rule and seeking termination of the FSA [the Flores Agreement] are important steps towards an immigration system that is humane and operates consistently with the intent of Congress.”
“Humane” certainly isn’t an adjective Madhuri Grewal, policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, is using to describe these changes.
“This is yet another cruel attack on children, who the Trump administration has targeted again and again with its anti-immigrant policies,” Grewal told CNN. “The government should not be jailing kids, and certainly shouldn’t be seeking to put more kids in jail for longer.”
This regulation is sure to face continued social and legal opposition. It will take effect 60 days after it is formally published later this week, if approved by the courts.
Andrea Cipriano is a TCR news intern.