The Trump administration on Wednesday unveiled new rules that would allow officials to indefinitely detain migrant families crossing the border illegally. This would replace the decades-old agreement that limited the time of authorities who could hold migrant children in custody.
The White House has for more than a year pressed the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to find a way to eliminate the agreement, known as the Flores settlement, a shift that immigration authorities say is crucial to halt the flow of migrants across the southwestern border, The New York Times reported.
Families typically have to wait several months for their cases to work their way through immigration court, and the new rule would allow DHS to keep those families at detention facilities.
The settlement had placed limits on how long children could be held in detention, leading the administration to release tens of thousands of families pending the resolution of their cases.
Quoting Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, Kevin McAleenan, Al Jazeera reported that those releases, under the new rule, were an incentive for immigrants to travel with children and that the government believes the new detention rule will have a deterrent effect.
McAleenan said the government believes some families apprehended on the border were "fraudulent" based on DNA testing of some migrants in pilot programmes implemented in recent months.
The rule will be published in the Federal Register on Friday and will take effect 60 days from that publication.
However, immigration rights advocates have denounced the new regulation and said prolonged detention would traumatise immigrant children.
( With inputs from ANI )