The White House Office of Management and Budget has started reviewing a proposed rule that would allow lengthy detentions of migrant children, according to the agencies website, as reported by Politico. The rule aims to free the Trump Administration from the restrictions of the 1997 Flores settlement agreement, which limits the amount of time undocumented children can spend in DHS detention facilities. The current cap on detention lengths for alien children is twenty days. It is unclear how far the White House plans to extend the detention period but Sen. Graham's (R-S.C.) Secure and Protect Act of 2019 proposes extending the detention period to one-hundred days cementing the new limit into law.
Trump Administration officials have argued that the court-mandated limit on alien child detention restricts the ability of Immigration and Customs Enforcement to enforce federal immigration law. In the past few years, the number of aliens who have sought to initiate the asylum process by claiming "credible fear" of persecution during expedited removal — either at ports of entry or between them — has soared, in large part owing to the Flores settlement agreement. So far, in Fiscal Year 2019, over 56,000 unaccompanied alien children have been apprehended at the southern border. By comparison, throughout the entirety of FY2018, just over 50,000 UACs were apprehended by Customs and Border Patrol at the southern border, just over 41,000 in FY2017.
Although the number of Central American families and unaccompanied alien children arriving at the southern border has surged in recent months, newly arrived migrants tend to be promptly released due to the restrictions and a lack of detention space. As reported by NumbersUSA last week, of all the immigrants apprehended at the southern border who are given an immigration court date, nearly 90 percent are not seen from again, a startling statistic revealed by Acting Director of DHS, Kevin McAleenan.
Finalizing the regulation remains an administration priority this year. However, a proposed rule published in September garnered more than 100,000 public comments that must be reviewed and potentially addressed, making this a very time-consuming task. Despite the administration's sureness that the rule will release it from the settlement agreement, such a move will undoubtedly be challenged in federal court.
For more on this story, please visit Politico.
Updated: Thu, Jul 4th 2019 @ 3:40pm EDT