On Aug. 21, the Trump administration announced a new rule allowing U.S. immigration officials to detain migrant families in Florida and elsewhere indefinitely while their asylum cases await a hearing before an immigration judge. Previously, the government was required to release detained migrants within 20 days.
In 1997, a court settlement limited the number of days that the U.S. government could detain migrant children. The agreement stated that children could not be held for more than 20 days, and previous administrations have interpreted that to mean that the parents of the children must also be released within that time frame. However, the Trump administration contends that families can be held indefinitely. It also claims that the rule change, which is the third aggressive immigration action it has taken in recent weeks, is necessary to close immigration loopholes and protect migrant children from abuse.
Critics of the latest move argue that President Trump and his top immigration aide, Stephen Miller, are targeting migrants for the sole purpose of firing up anti-immigration supporters ahead of the 2020 presidential election. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called the rule change an attempt to “codify child abuse.” She also predicted the new rule would be struck down by a federal judge. Meanwhile, on the same day the rule change was announced, the American Psychoanalytic Association issued a statement saying that Trump’s immigration policies were a clear case of “psychological warfare,” intended to deter asylum seekers and other immigrants from entering the U.S.
Migrants who are being held in immigration detention centers could contact an immigration lawyer for assistance. Counsel could carefully review the case and do everything possible to get a migrant and his or her family released.