Trump administration unveils new rule to detain migrant families indefinitely

Acting ICE director: ‘There is no such thing as indefinite detention'

By Jessie Degollado - Reporter, Luis Cienfuegos - Photojournalist

DILLEY, Texas - The Trump administration has unveiled a new rule it says will indefinitely detain migrant families who cross the border illegally in Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers.

However, "there is no such thing as indefinite detention,” said Matt Albence, acting ICE director.

The rule effectively withdraws the U.S. from what's known as the Flores Settlement, a decades-old agreement requiring immigration officials to remove migrant children from non-licensed facilities within 20 days of entering.

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During a media tour, KSAT wasn’t allowed to show or speak to any of the 900 women and children staying at the holding facilities in Dilley, but those our crew saw didn't seem to show any of the stress they could be feeling being ICE custody.

"I don't think we should be in the business of detaining minors. I don't think we should be in the business of detaining families," said Lance Curtright, an immigration attorney.

The privately operated facilities spread over the 55-acre property appeared to have almost everything the mothers and children would need during the up to 20-day limit mandated by the courts, but the new regulation would make it possible for them to be held there indefinitely unless the judge who oversees the settlement sees it differently. 

"My is (she) is going to do as she has done before and say the Flores (Settlement) guidelines will remain intact," Curtright said. 

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Albence said the regulation does what is called for in the Flores Agreement.

"Here are the standards that we are going to meet with regard to how family detention centers will be run,” he said.

Families will still be held temporarily, Albence said. He said the rule should discourage others from making the treks these families did.

"Because we have seen when we established family detention in 2014, the numbers dropped precipitously,” he said.

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Albence wrapped up the meeting by saying the following:

"When the public sees the actual conditions and the media talks about the Flores settlement, they will show pictures of ICE family residential centers as opposed to a CBP processing center, which they know is not a nice facility. It is not where we keep families."

The judge who oversees the Flores Settlement and others are likely to hear several court challenges to the new rule. 

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