Child Migrants to Be Held in Detention Longer Under New Trump Administration Rule

Lucy Nicholson/File Photo/Reuters

The Trump administration on Wednesday unveiled new rules that would allow officials to detain migrant families indefinitely while judges consider whether to grant them asylum in the United States.

The rules, which are certain to draw a legal challenge, would replace a 1997 legal agreement that limits the amount of time U.S. immigration authorities can detain migrant children. That agreement is generally interpreted as meaning families must be released within 20 days.

Administration officials blame the so-called Flores Settlement Agreement for a spike in immigration, especially of Central American families, saying it encourages migrants to bring children with them so they can be released into the United States while their court cases are pending.

Families typically have to wait several months for their cases to work their way through immigration court, and the new rule would allow DHS to keep those families at detention facilities.

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.

Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan, announcing the new rule, said those releases were an incentive for immigrants to travel with children and that the government believes the new detention rule will have a deterrent effect.

McAleenan said the government believes some families apprehended on the border were “fraudulent” based on DNA testing of some migrants in pilot programs implemented in recent months.

“No child should be a pawn,” McAleenan said at a news conference announcing the rule. “Or as one gentleman in Guatemala told me, ‘as a passport to the United States.'”

The rule will be published in the Federal Register on Friday and will take effect 60 days from that publication. The implementation deadline could slip, however, depending on the success of the likely court challenges.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has repeatedly said that detention is not suitable for children, who may suffer numerous negative physical and emotional symptoms. Officials said the families would receive mental health treatment and other services.

President Donald Trump has made a crackdown on immigration, legal and illegal, central to his presidency. The administration unveiled a sweeping rule last week that would deny visas and permanent residency to poor migrants, a move that experts say could cut legal immigration in half.

Immigration officials have struggled to handle a surge of families and children fleeing violence and poverty in Central America that have at times overwhelmed border officials.

DHS officials say they have apprehended 390,000 family units since last October.

The government currently 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.

The administration has faced harsh criticism of its temporary border patrol stations, where lawyers and internal government watch-dogs reported hundreds of children and families being held in squalid conditions. McAleenan said the new rule will allow officials to transfer families to more appropriate facilities and would allow families to stay together.

The administration sought to deter migrants last year through a “zero tolerance” policy that separated thousands of children from their parents. But it abandoned the effort following widespread public outrage.

Hundreds of families, however, are still being separated if the government deems the parent a risk to the child. A pending legal challenge by the American Civil Liberties Union claims those ongoing separations are often based on flimsy evidence or minor crimes like traffic violations.

(Reporting by Andy Sullivan in Washington D.C. and Mica Rosenberg in New York; Editing by Dan Grebler)

What do you think?

14 pledges
Upvote Downvote


newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Jay D
Jay D

Why not ship them all to states that have huge farms and factories that need migrant help. We can let them work 6 days a week farming or in a factory to pay for us housing them until their court dates when they are all deported back to Mexico. Why should they get a free ride while they are here? Put them to work and use them to pay for what we are spending on them.


No illegal alien, kid or adult, should be removed from detention, period. Now these kids will be held with parents (hopefully all will be DNA tested) and human traffickers will not be able to recycle these poor kids as 1/3rd of them have been. Bravo Trump!


Give them tee shirts. “My parents dragged me thousands of miles and at peril and all I got was this.” Give them nothing else.

In the interest of multicultural sensitivity let’s give them what they fled. Dirt floors, no running water, outdoor plumbing, etc. Giving them medical care not only shows arrogant 1st-world privilege, but marginalizes the conditions–diseases, parasites, etc.– they came with.

As a concession, give them farming tools and seeds so that they can feed themselves.


Here’s a practical solution for those crying about the children. We have a bail/bonding system. Let THEM post FULL bail for them, thus making them legally and financially responsible. Let THEM pay for their welfare, healthcare, and education.


One wonders about the confused and hypocritic thinking of the Left. First, they don’t want children separated. Even if those children are pawns and props for attempts at asylum. They and their parents or *ahem* guardians should be sent back to Mexico while waiting for asylum. While there are NO laws saying this is illegal (asylum laws say NOTHING about where detention takes place), it’s more just. After all, Mexico LET them pass through to the border. Second, they literally celebrate the right to murder children. It’s a litmus test for them. Yet here they are SOOOO concerned about these… Read more »


More wasted tax dollars to take care of CRIMINALS – those who INVADED our sovereign Nation for a hand out – instead of spending that money on our own homeless, poor and elderly. What happened to ENFORCING the immigration Laws and sending these CRIMINALS back to where they came from? IF we had wanted them here, we would have sent out engraved invitations to RSVP. DEPORT ALL.


Ludicrous rules for ludicrous times. No matter what is done there will be complainers. God only knows how many children are suffering at the paws of coyotes. The smallest of pawns are being abused at the whim of treacherous vermin with an agenda. Our Congress is so busy screwing each other that the true suffering is cast aside as is the blame. There MUST be a solution and it is that the infants, toddlers and children …Not teenage gangsters, are taken to facilities to be cared for, yes by our tax dollars, and treated humanely. The liberal BS of family… Read more »

Jason Alsbrook

So tired of Reuters’ one sided ‘journalism’. Funny how those on the Left are so concerned about children being ‘detained’, but never mention the FACT that they’re being trafficked and abused.





Trump Draws U.S. Backlash on Jews’ Disloyalty Comments

Trump Shares Quote From Conspiracy Theorist Claiming Jewish Israelis Treat Him Like ‘King of Israel’