Washington Free Beacon editor-in-chief Matthew Continetti defended the Trump administration's move to end the Flores Settlement Agreement during an appearance on Fox News' Special Report Wednesday evening. The agreement is generally interpreted as meaning families must be released within 20 days.
Under the current Flores Settlement Agreement, children cannot be held for more than 20 days.
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, in an August 21 news release, said the administration's announcement was "the latest attack on the most vulnerable among us" and removing the time restriction amounted to "essentially allowing unlimited incarceration of children and families".
The settlement had placed limits on how long children could be held in detention, leading the administration to release tens of thousands of families pending the resolution of their cases.
"These regulations do not implement the [Flores] settlement", Schey said. The implementation deadline could slip, however, depending on the success of the likely court challenges.
Immigrant advocates decried the move and said prolonged detention would traumatize immigrant children. They say the Trump administration has harmed migrant children by holding them in squalid conditions on the border and forcibly separating hundreds from their parents and should not be given wider latitude to detain them.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has repeatedly said that detention is not suitable for children, who may suffer numerous negative physical and emotional symptoms. Such families are rarely deported, officials said.
The children were held by the Department of Health and Human Services while the adults were imprisoned while awaiting trial for breaking immigration laws.
"I think all these things are now part of the 2020 campaign", Schey said. "This is an abhorrent step that would shred the Flores agreement".
Merkley, one of the original members of Congress to bring the detention issue to national attention in 2017, has proposed a solution: bringing back the family case management program. "Because of the current Flores settlement agreement, everybody knows. you grab a kid, that's your USA passport into the United States because we can't hold you more than 20 days". Further, the statistics show that the families can stay up to eight years before going to court by using other loopholes in the system as an alternative to detention.
Morgan also discussed the possibility of a court challenge and said he's confident it will be upheld.
In what would be another attempt to dismantle established immigration law, Trump told reporters on Wednesday his administration was seriously looking at ending the right of citizenship for children born to non-citizens within the United States. "Congratulations, the baby is now a USA citizen", Trump said.
It was the 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.
The massive influx of Central American families to the U.S. -Mexico border has vastly strained the system, though agreements by Mexico to clamp down on migrants heading north and a new agreement with Guatemala forcing migrants to claim asylum there instead of heading north are expected to reduce the flow, though the action has been decried as inhumane.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced a change in policy that could see migrant children detained indefinitely, replacing a previous restriction limiting confinement of undocumented minors to 20 days.
The government now has only between 2,500 and 3,000 detention beds for family units and said any expansion of detention facilities will meet a high standard of care in "campus-like" settings. And lawyers in the case recently spoke out about what they said were deplorable, filthy conditions for children held at border facilities not meant to hold large groups of people for very long.
The rule was slated to take effect in 60 days.
Democrats made a political issue out of the Trump administration's decision earlier this year to enforce the separation policy, even though it was in place under previous administrations. But it abandoned the effort following widespread public outrage. More than 2,900 children were separated from their parents as a result.