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>> The Trump administration on Thursday announced that it wants to withdraw from a federal decree that put limits on how long the government can detain children who enter or are brought into the country illegally. The 1997 Flores Settlement Agreement said immigrant minors could not be incarcerated longer than 20 days.
Reuters correspondent Yeganeh Torbati is on the story.>> There's a huge backlog right now in the US asylum process and in immigration courts. And it takes far longer, most of the time, than 20 days to fully process someone's case. What the administration has said is that it doesn't believe that the government should be committing so-called catch and release.
This term that they use for essentially the policy of detaining a migrant, whether it's an adult or a child, and releasing them while their case works its way through the system.>> But the Department of Homeland Security wrote it would issue new regulations that promised children in custody quote, are treated with dignity, respect and special concern for their particular vulnerability as minors.
> The move comes after the administration was forced to retreated from a zero tolerance policy toward families crossing the border illegally, that sparked outrage. That approach meant parents were charged as criminals, even if they claimed asylum, and were separated from their children. More than 2600 children, including hundreds under the age of five, were removed from their families and were placed in detention centers.
In hundreds of cases, parents were deported while the children remained in custody. In July, a federal judge ordered the government to reunite the families. But as of last week, at least 500 children were still detained. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen issued a statement that quote, legal loopholes significantly hinder the department's ability to appropriately detain and promptly remove family units that have no legal basis to remain in the country.
But the request to withdraw from Flores will almost certainly face a challenge in federal court. The US district judge overseeing the agreement has so far rejected efforts by the government to change the terms.