RELEASE: Move to Lengthen and Worsen the Detention of Migrant Children Faces Serious Legal Problems, CAP Analysis Says

Washington, D.C. — The Trump administration’s effort to end limits on how long migrant children can be held in detention faces serious legal problems, according to a new analysis from the Center for American Progress.

A new rule is expected to overturn the 1997 Flores settlement, a long-standing legal agreement that sets out commonsense standards for the care of children in immigration detention. Beyond the basic harm the rule would inflict on vulnerable children, there are several reasons why it is unlikely to survive a court challenge:

  • It is wildly inconsistent with the terms of the Flores settlement, which requires that any regulation dissolving the agreement be consistent with its terms.
  • Federal courts have ruled against deterrence as a rationale for detaining immigrant families.
  • The government’s failure to adequately account for the high costs of the rule likely renders it “arbitrary and capricious” under the Administrative Procedures Act.

“Given these serious legal hurdles, not to mention the significant harms that would come to children and families, the courts must step in and stop the rule from moving forward,” said Philip E. Wolgin, author of the analysis and managing director for Immigration Policy at the Center for American Progress.

Read the analysis: “3 Reasons Why the New Flores Rule Does Not Pass Legal Muster” by Philip E. Wolgin.

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For more information or to talk to an expert, please contact Sam Hananel at or 202-478-6327.