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Undocumented immigrants wait in a detention center at the Border Patrol detention center in Nogales, Arizona (Reuters/Jeff Topping).
Undocumented immigrants wait in a Border Patrol detention in Nogales, Arizona. (Reuters/Jeff Topping)

Trump administration takes measures to detain children for long periods of time

Against the accusations of activists and human rights organizations, Donald Trump's government has initiated an official procedure to withdraw from a judicial…

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As long as his wall keeps being refused, Donald Trump will look for ways to lock immigrants between walls, whether they are minors or not.

After the worldwide scandal caused by the "Zero Tolerance" policy of the Trump administration - in which more than 3,000 children were separated from their parents when they tried to enter the country without documents - the government now intends to circumvent the judicial measures that prevented it from keeping minors detained for long periods of time.

According to the Washington Post, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) along with the Department of Health and Human Services has proposed changes that "would attempt to terminate the Flores Settlement Agreement, the federal consent decree that has shaped the detention standards for underage migrants since 1997."

While several minor courts, as well as District Judge Dolly M. Gee (who personally oversees the Flores Agreement), have denied the government the request, this new strategy is intended not to establish a time limit but, on the contrary, "seeks the authority to hold migrant children and their parents until their cases have been adjudicated," explains the Post, "a process that could take months."

Officials from both departments have argued that this proposal would avoid the "loopholes" that have arisen in the face of undocumented immigration, and allow them to "appropriately detain and promptly remove family units that have no legal basis to remain in the country," declared DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. "This rule addresses one of the primary pull factors for illegal immigration and allows the federal government to enforce the immigration laws passed by Congress," she added.

Judge Gee rejected in July the Department of Justice's request to allow immigrant children to be detained for an "indefinite period" on the grounds that it was "a cynical attempt, on an ex parte basis, to shift responsibility to the judiciary for over 20 years of congressional inaction and ill-considered executive action that have led to the current stalemate."

Now the government is trying to circumvent this decision through a proposed regulation that can possibly reach the Supreme Court.

The suggestion of this type of measures is in clear violation of the stipulations of the international human rights law, which determines that "children should not be held in immigration detention, except for very short periods of time for the purpose of effectuating a deportation order," explained Human Rights Watch.

This process is not yet final and will take at least 60 days of legal debate where community and activist work could denounce and hinder it from finally becoming a reality.

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