WASHINGTON- On Wednesday, the Trump administration revealed a rule that allows officials to detain migrant families indefinitely while judges consider whether to grant them asylum in the United States, abolishing a previous 20-day limit.
The rule, which is certain to draw a legal challenge, would replace a 1997 court settlement that limits the amount of time US immigration authorities can detain migrant children.
That agreement is generally interpreted as meaning families must be released within 20 days.
It was the Republican administration`s third major regulation restricting immigration in little more than a month, all during an unsettled period when senior immigration officials hold "acting" titles lacking US Senate confirmation.
"To protect these children from abuse, and stop this illegal flow, we must close these loopholes. This is an urgent humanitarian necessity," Trump said in a statement. Critics counter that Trump and Stephen Miller, his aide on immigration, are using a series of heartless policies to animate hard-core political supporters.
"The administration is seeking to codify child abuse, plain and simple," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, said in a statement, adding that she expected a federal judge would strike down the new rule.
"It has become clear that the current administration uses cruel language, policies and abuse with the objective of deterring immigrants and asylum seekers," said Lee Jaffe, president of APsaA. Officials said the families would receive mental health treatment and other services in facilities that are held to high standards of care.
"They`re campus-like settings with educational, medical, dining and separate, private living facilities," acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan told Fox News. Robyn Barnard, an attorney for the nonprofit organisation Human Rights First, challenged that characterization, saying that just because a facility is in a pastoral setting does not make it more humane.
"A gilded cage is still a cage," Barnard said. "There are locks on the doors, there is no freedom of movement. It is for all intents and purposes a prison."