New rules from DHS would get rid of a requirement that immigrant children be held in properly licensed facilities.
The anti-immigrant vitriol of the Trump administration is in the spotlight once again as the Department of Homeland Security is preparing new regulations to keep immigrant children jailed for longer periods of time — perhaps indefinitely.
The new regulations "circumvent limits on the government’s ability to hold minors in immigration jails by withdrawing from the Flores Settlement Agreement, the federal consent decree that has shaped detention standards for underage migrants since 1997," according to the Washington Post.
Under the current decree, children cannot be held in detention facilities longer than 20 days. NBC News reports the new regulations would allow the Trump administration to detain children with their parents indefinitely.
According to DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, the new regulations are needed to close loopholes that prevent DHS from quickly deporting families who are in the U.S. illegally.
One of the major obstacles faced by DHS is the limited number of ICE facilities that can house families for detention. According to the Flores settlement, children can only stay at properly licensed facilities.
The Trump administration's solution? Just ignore the settlement and come up with a secret new licensing scheme.
"According to the changes proposed Thursday, the government will ensure new detention facilities meet current standards, 'as evaluated by a third-party entity engaged by ICE,'" reports the Post. "The announcement does not indicate who the third party would be."
ICE has a track record of shoddy facilities and rampant sexual abuse among staff at detention facilities. In August, an 18-month-old infant died after contracting a respiratory illness at an ICE facility. And in July, detention facilities were caught administering psychotropic drugs to children without parental consent.
Several immigrant children have been sexually abused by staff at detention facilities.
Even in light of these abuses, DHS still wants ICE to oversee the "licensing" of family detention facilities where children would be housed indefinitely.
The new regulations will be open for public comments for 60 days. After that period, according to the Post, legal counsel for immigrant children would have 45 days to challenge the new regulations in court.
The proposed regulations build upon the Trump administration's deeply flawed immoral family separation policy, which ripped infants out of the arms of mothers and tossed them into problematic baby jails for the express purpose of deterring immigrants from coming to America. Many of the children taken away from parents were fleeing danger and violence and coming to the United States seeking asylum, only to have their families separated.
Some Republicans in Congress have proposed internment camps as a possible solution, harking back to anti-Japanese hysteria during World War II.
In the end, Republicans have little legitimate, non-racist reason for such drastic measures. The overwhelming majority of families who flee to the United States attend their required court hearing after they are released from detention.
According to Human Rights First, "97 percent of mothers who had legal representation and whose cases were initiated in FY 2014 were actually in full compliance with their court hearing obligations," reports ThinkProgress. "The same is true for 98 percent of children."
Yet the administration plows forward, casting aide the rule of law in yet another show of anti-immigrant hostility.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.