The White House announced a new rule on Wednesday morning regarding a change in how long it would hold immigrant families with children crossing the U.S. border without documentation.
Previously, a limit of 20-days of detention for migrants with children had been put in place, to ensure that young ones wouldn’t experience mental anguish or other emotional grief. The limit was established in 2015, but was an extension of an agreement between the U.S. government and courts that was produced in 1997, according to the New York Times.
The new rule would nix that standard and allow the administration to hold migrants, including those with children, for an indefinite period of time.
The Trump administration has been on the receiving end of criticism in the past for its rules pertaining to immigrants entering the country. It had implemented a “zero-tolerance” child separation policy, removing children of migrants from their parents as soon as they crossed the border, resulting in thousands of kids being stripped away from their guardians.
— Katherine L. Unmuth (@kunmuth) August 21, 2019
Amid substantial outcry over the policy, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that nominally ended that program, although in practice it remains in use in roundabout ways, a prior report from HillReporter.com detailed.
Experts have warned in the past that detaining children for unknown lengths of time — even if they’re with their parents — can cause substantial emotional grief, increasing serious risks to their mental well-being, raising the likelihood of PTSD and even suicide in the future, TIME magazine previously reported.
The new rule from the White House is meant to act as a deterrent to would-be migrants entering the country, to encourage them against doing so, the administration insisted. As it was placed on the Federal Register on Wednesday, it will not go into effect for 60 days, CBS News reported. It will likely face legal challenges from immigrant rights groups.