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Nicole Hernandez, of the Mexican state of Guerrero, holds on to her mother as they wait with other families to request political asylum in the United States, across the border in Tijuana, Mexico on June 13, 2018. The family has waited for about a week in this Mexican border city, hoping for a chance to escape widespread violence in their home state.=
Gregory Bull/AP

Migrant Children Could Be Detained Indefinitely Under Trump Administration's New Proposal

Why Global Citizens Should Care
Many immigrants arriving at the US-Mexico border are fleeing violent conflict, extreme poverty, and persecution. Children in particular are a vulnerable population in need of specific protections and the Trump administration’s proposed regulation would rollback protections already in place. Nearly 500 children separated from their families at the border are still in government custody. You can take action to support the reunification of families here.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order ending his administration’s policy of separating immigrant children from their parents at the US-Mexico border in response to public outcry on June 20. But the struggles of migrant families — many of whom are fleeing violence and extreme poverty — hoping to find safety and opportunity in the US are far from over.

Trump’s executive order ended the practice of separating families at the border in favor of a policy that would “maintain family unity.” However, to “maintain family unity” the order called for families to be detained together — indefinitely.

The Trump administration has been largely unable to implement such a policy because of a well-established agreement, known as the Flores settlement, which protects migrant children’s rights and prohibits migrant children from being detained for more than 20 days. The executive order’s appeal to revise the Flores agreement was shot down in court by US District Court Judge Dolly Gee in July.

But the administration made clear on Thursday that it intends to follow through with this approach, submitting a 200-page proposal for a regulation that would replace the Flores settlement, CNN reported.

Take Action: Refugee? Migrant? Human Being. Show Your Support for All People

The Trump administration has blamed the Flores settlement — which requires migrant children to be detained in “less restrictive” environments — for “forcing” it to separate families in the first place. The government argued that they needed to separate children from their families so that the children could be held in “less restrictive” detention centers and shelters, while their parents remained in facilities for undocumented adult immigrants .

Previous administrations typically held families together in less restrictive detention to meet this requirement and released them as a family unit while their cases were pending after the 20-day maximum was reached in accordance with the Flores settlement.

The Trump administration’s regulation, proposed by the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services, would instead allow children to be detained together with their families throughout their deportation or asylum-seeking processes for whatever period of time the government deems “necessary.”

Read More: The US Is Still Holding 500 Migrant Children in Custody

The proposal would also allow authorities to keep children in facilities as restrictive as those in which adults are held and gives the government more discretion over migrant children are treated and how their cases are handled, stripping them of protections previously put into place.

Once the proposal is officially published on the Federal Register — on Sept. 7 — the public has 60 days to comment on it, according to Vox; the commenting period will close on Nov. 6. The administration’s move attempts to circumvent the courts by sending the regulation for formal review, CNN reported. However, the final draft of the regulation will still be subject to legal review and is likely to face challenges in court.

If implemented as written, the proposed regulation would pave the way for thousands of migrant families to be detained indefinitely and stripped of protections.

Despite a court order issued on June 27 to reunite families separated at the border within 30 days, nearly 500 children are still being held in detention facilities without their parents.