The Trump administration last week announced a new rule that will replace the Flores settlement, an agreement regulating the detention of migrant children.
The new regulations, posted on Friday, will allow the federal government to license migrant shelters and determine how long to detain families together. The administration said the changes will provide higher standards of migrant care because the process to certify shelters differs between states. U.S. government officials also pointed out families in detention tend to see their cases resolved more quickly than those released on parole. But opponents argued the federal government has a horrible track record of caring for migrants and giving it more control is dangerous.
The Flores settlement, a 1997 agreement between the government and immigration activists, regulated detention conditions for unaccompanied migrant minors. Among other things, it required the government to provide safe and sanitary conditions, counseling and education opportunities, and appropriate recreation for the children, releasing them as soon as possible. In 2015, a judge ruled Flores also applied to accompanied migrant children and established 20 days as the maximum time the government could detain children with their parents. Much of the recent controversy over detention conditions revolved around whether the government is complying with the Flores settlement.
Now, U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials are taking that question off the table. But first the rule will have to survive court challenges: Twenty states, including California and Massachusetts, filed lawsuits almost immediately to block the move. —Charissa Koh