Nineteen states have filed a lawsuit against the Trump Administration over a rule change that would alter a federal agreement on how long immigrant children can be kept in detention.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said Monday that a proposed rule change by the Trump Administration would place children at risk. Becerra and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey are leading the lawsuit filed by nineteen states.
"This new Trump rule callously puts at risk the safety and well-being of children. It undermines a decades-old agreement reached in court by the federal government to prevent the unlawful detention of immigrant children," said Becerra. "No child deserves to be left in conditions inappropriate and harmful for their age. We’re taking the Trump Administration to court to protect children from the irreparable harm caused by unlawful and unnecessary detention. With our partners across the country, we will fight for the most vulnerable among us."
The complaint argues that the Trump Administration's final rule interferes with a state's ability to help ensure the health, safety and welfare of children by removed state licensing requirements for facilities where children will be held. The plan by the Trump administration would also end a 20-day limit on detaining children and families. Administration officials said the limit, which was set after the 1997 Flores settlement of a federal class-action lawsuit, was effectively a green light for undocumented adults to bring along children when entering the United States illegally.
The Flores settlement meant the government agreed to hold undocumented children in the least restrictive setting possible, something that was eventually extended to undocumented children who also arrived with their families. When the Obama Administration wanted to hold migrant children who arrived with families in federal detention in Texas, a California judge ruled the settlement also applied to those children, meaning families would also be held no longer than 20-days out of concern for their children's safety.
That would remove the cap on family detentions, rather than separating families by placing parents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and children at facilities that have been licensed by the Department of Health and Human Services. The new rule would allow the administration to license and monitor detention centers where children would be held with their parents until their immigration case can be heard by a judge - a process that often takes months.
Photo: Getty Images