Immigrant families in Tennessee may be concerned about reports that the Trump administration plans to avoid a longstanding agreement in federal courts that oversees the treatment of children in immigration detention. The administration said in September 2018 that it plans to detain families for longer periods of time in an attempt to deter undocumented migrants from crossing the southern border. New proposed regulations from the Department of Homeland Security eliminate the existing Flores agreement, which mandates that children should be held in the least restrictive setting.
The agreement also mandates the release of children within 20 days after their initial immigration detention. However, in the summer of 2018, one federal judge rejected a request by the government to allow families to be held for longer periods. The change will likely lead to a new lawsuit over the 1997 case that created the initial agreement. When the administration announced its so-called “zero tolerance” policy at the southern border, its treatment of immigrant children became particularly controversial.
Over 2,900 children were taken from their parents, leading to widespread international and domestic outrage. Undocumented migrant adults were being treated as criminals, and administration officials defended the separation of families by saying that parents and kids could not be detained together in certain facilities. There are three detention centers for families, and they are mostly at capacity. The rule change proposed would allow families to be detained together until their immigration cases are closed, while they were generally released as the cases were pending. Government departments are reportedly requesting funds to detain thousands of children and adults.
Many immigrants across the country, no matter their status or level of documentation, are deeply concerned about the changes to immigration law being made or proposed by the Trump administration. An immigration lawyer might be able to help people worried about deportation, visa renewal or other issues to protect themselves and their families.