The Trump Administration has moved to enact new rules that would overturn protections that mandate safe and sanitary conditions at detention facilities and allow border agents to detain migrant children indefinitely, claiming it will allow them to keep families together.
Currently, the Flores settlement mandates that the government has 20 days to transfer migrant children and their families to state-licensed facilities. Since states don’t detain families, and don’t have licensing procedures for the facilities that would hold them, the government must release them after 20 days.
According to a 2018 proposal of the new rule, the Department of Homeland Security would be allowed to license its’ own facilities which would let the Trump administration decide the criteria for the facilities where families will be kept. The government says an unnamed third party will provide oversight on whether or not these conditions are being met.
Many reports have described the conditions in detention centers as dirty, overcrowded, and inhumane. So far five children have died in custody since September of 2018.
“This rule will separate more families and traumatize countless others in the process,” said Jess Morales Rocketto, chair of Families Belong Together. “The government needs to reunite families immediately, not expand the number of parents and children they jail with limited food, beds, toilets, or access to medical attention.”
The rule will require court approval before it goes into effect, and is expected to be challenged by immigrant and civil rights groups. The final version of the new rules will be published in the Federal register on Friday.
Sources: Politico 8/21/19; Huffington Post 8/21/19; Buzzfeed News 8/21/19