19 States, District of Columbia, Sue Trump Administration Over Illegal Immigrant Detention

August 27, 2019 Updated: August 27, 2019

NEW YORK—Attorneys general for 19 states and the District of Columbia sued President Donald Trump’s administration on Aug. 26 to block a new rule to indefinitely detain illegal immigrant families seeking to settle in the United States.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, was the first litigation seeking to stop the rule, officially published on Friday, from taking effect in October.

The White House did not immediately comment on Monday evening.

The new rule seeks to scrap a 1997 agreement, known as the Flores settlement, which puts a 20-day limit on how long children can be held in immigration detention.

The settlement was expanded in 2015 to apply not just to unaccompanied children but also to those traveling with their parents.

Trump administration officials say the detention limits have become a “pull” factor for migrants, who hope that if they show up at the U.S.-Mexico border with a child and ask for asylum, they will be allowed in pending a hearing in U.S. immigration court, a practice the president has called “catch-and-release.”

More than 42,000 families, mostly from Central America, were arrested along the U.S. southern border just last month. The July arrest numbers are at record highs, even though they have dropped more than half compared with levels seen in May.

By Mica Rosenberg

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