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WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 21: Department of Homeland Security acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan holds a news conference to announce new rules about how migrant children and families are treated in federal custody at the Ronald Reagan Building August 21, 2019, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 21: Department of Homeland Security acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan holds a news conference to announce new rules about how migrant children and families are treated in federal custody at the Ronald Reagan Building August 21,…

The Trump administration breaks with the Flores agreement and decides to detain immigrant families for longer periods of time

A new announcement from the Department of Homeland Security has made public the Administration’s new immigration rules.

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We can’t say they didn’t warn us.

The Trump Administration has finally decided to detain immigrant children and parents for longer periods of time – breaking away from the 20-day rule, and possibly making the time period indefinite.

While this may sound scratched, the decision of the Department of Homeland Security to break with the Flores agreement is a dangerous advance against the conditions of undocumented immigrants in the country.

At a press conference, the interim director of the Department, Kevin McAleenan, announced to the media that the new government rule "will allow the Department of Homeland Security to keep families together and improve the integrity of the immigration system," arguing that indefinite detention of family units was aimed at "ensuring that all children in custody of the United States government are treated with dignity."

The new government rule, which will be formally issued on Friday, announces that both the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services formally withdraw from the Flores Agreement, a federal ruling stipulating the maximum detention time for an immigrant child to 20 days, and that has been in force since 1997.

This decision would enter into legal conflict with the decision of district judge Dolly M. Gee, who denied the administration the request to extend family detentions last year, according to the Washington Post.

The Flores agreement establishes more than the detention time for undocumented immigrant children, it also defines the general standards when it comes to treating unaccompanied immigrant children, from housing, medical care, education, nutrition, and hygiene.

That is, this new government order would allow children who are prosecuted as unaccompanied minors to be detained for an indefinite time.

What is the government’s true victory?

Its two-and-a-half-year battle against the Flores agreement is based on the government's intention to indefinitely detain any undocumented immigrant in the country, especially those who attempt to cross the ports of entry "illegally" or are stopped bypassing the border.

Similarly, a Homeland Security official told CBS News: "the Administration hopes to eliminate what it sees as an ‘incentive’ by detaining families until the end of their immigration proceedings.”

It is once again the implementation of fear as a coercive strategy against the immigrant community, waiting for Central Americans to decide not to cross the border.

Meanwhile, the government still doesn’t offer a coherent plan for the indefinite detention of hundreds of families.

You just need to see the consequences of the government's zero-tolerance policy - where thousands of children separated from their parents were subjected to the worst conditions of detention - to realize that government immigration plans remain threats that don’t consider the welfare of those who fall into the custody of the United States.

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