The Trump administration is considering new plans to renew family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border, as the number of migrant families which are entering the country illegally has increased by a big extent in recent months.
One policy which is under consideration would be to give asylum-seeking parents a binary choice after spending 20 days in detention with their families: either stay in a detention center for months or may be even years awaiting an immigration trial, or allow children to be taken to government shelters while other relatives make an attempt to seek custody for them. The Washington Post reported that this option was being deeply considered.
President Trump signed an executive order in July, amid criticism of his administration’s immigration policies, to put an end to family separations at the border, which included detaining families as a method to keep them together. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement however now say that they may not have the space to detain families who choose to stay together.
Justice Department and the American Civil Liberties Union endorsed the option to give families a choice about staying together in a court filing in July. The motion stated that if a parent decides to stay with their children, the parent would waive the child’s rights in regards to placement in the least restrictive setting, appropriate to the minor’s age as well as special needs. If a parent does not make any decision, the motion said that the government would have to keep the family detained together.
These rights got enumerated in the 1997 settlement Flores v. Reno. However, the administration officials wanted to modify this to allow for family separations. Justice officials also wanted maximum flexibility for the Trump administration to determine the length of detention, arguing that the settlement was limiting the detention of children to 20 days which means that they could not be kept with their families. However, a federal judge had rejected this request in the month of July.
A spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security justified the administration’s hardline policies on immigration but did not directly address concerns about implementing the binary choice.
Katie Waldman, a spokesperson for the Department Homeland Security said in a statement to CBS News that there is currently a crisis at the southern border and they encounter an increasing number of adults who enter the country with children illegally .
She added that catch-and-release loopholes in the law incentivize illegal border-crossers to take this dangerous journey as they are unlikely to face consequences for their illegal conduct and in fact almost certainly get released.