So the heroic Donald Trump proposes a compromise to tearing families apart –
jailing them indefinitely, or so the New York Times characterizes it.
He knows his base.
The settlement of a 1997 lawsuit might present a problem in holding children more than 20 days.
Does the executive have such authority? When it was President Obama, Trump certainly thought otherwise.
Trump’s said the order does not alter the “zero tolerance” policy itself that the administration put in place in April. Under that policy, the administration has sought to prosecute as many border-crossing offenses as possible, including those involving families with children.
Because the Justice Department can’t prosecute children along with their parents, the result of the zero-tolerance policy has been a sharp rise in the number of children detained separately.
On Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security said 2,342 children have been separated from their parents since last month.
One administration official said Trump’s order would end separations by keeping families together in immigration detention centers.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) operates two large detention centers for families in Texas and a smaller one in Pennsylvania, but their combined capacity is about 3,000 beds.
As of mid-June, the three centers were nearly full, meaning ICE would potentially need to place children in its much larger network of immigration jails for adults.
That would most likely violate the 1997 “Flores Settlement” agreement that limits the government’s ability to keep children in detention and orders them to be placed in least-restrictive setting possible.
A subsequent ruling in 2016 bars the government from keeping children in family detention centers for more than 20 days.
An administration official with knowledge of the plan indicated that the Trump administration was anticipating lawsuits and preparing to litigate Flores in court, particularly if lawmakers fail to approve a legislative fix.
Also: The order makes no provision for the thousands already torn apart by Trump actions.
UPDATE: It’s getting worse. There’a loophole for separation.
And how about this, a spelling error in executive order that called to mind the old grade-school teacher reminder: “There is ‘a rat’ in separation.” So true. So true.