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Trump administration tries to avoid Flores rule

One of the longest standing judicial rulings that affects immigrant families is the class action consent decree known as the Flores Settlement. The settlement is named after the young Hispanic girl who was reunited with her parents as the result of that settlement. She had been incarcerated with adult men and stripped searched every day while in lengthy government custody. The settlement requires that migrant children be released from custody without unnecessary delay or transferred to a licensed child care facility. In emergency, the time limit can be extended to twenty days.

The Trump administration recently filed proposed rules intended to allow minors to be held beyond the current limit of 20 days and to relax the licensing requirements for temporary housing facilities. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said that the restrictions of the Flores consent decree were "legal loopholes" that significantly hinder the department's ability to appropriately detain and promptly remove family units that have no legal basis to remain in the country." In other words, the effort to amend the terms of the Flores Consent Decree is nothing more than an effort to extend the government's "zero tolerance" treatment of immigrant families.

Many observers say that these proposed rules amount to nothing more than the administration's attempt to shift the blame for its disastrous policy of separating immigrant children from their parents to the Flores Consent Decree. At least two federal judges have denied the government's requests to avoid the Flores order.

Many immigrant families are facing painful separation caused by the government's "zero tolerance" policy. Anyone who fears they may be affected by the new rules may benefit from consulting an experienced immigration attorney. A knowledgeable attorney can provide advice on the effective date and legal reach of the new rules, and also provide advice about further court proceedings that may affect immigrant families.

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