Q&A –The Truth Behind The Child Detention Policy

Today’s question was submitted via Twitter - What’s the truth behind @Relshalala, and not being allowed into the immigration facility down in homestead? I don’t trust anything Wasserman Schultz is involved in. 

Bottom Line: First, it’s important to note that there’s no law specifically governing the immigrant child separation policy. That’s the first misstatement that you’ll frequently hear from those critical of President Trump’s administration. Second, the origin of the policy from a legal perspective derives from action taken during the Clinton administration, even more ironic given that Rep. Donna Shalala was part of that administration as HHS Secretary. 

The origin stems from a 1997 court ruling/settlement “The Flores Case”. As part of a federal settlement in the Flores case this agreement was reached:

The government cannot hold minors in adult detention centers for more than 20 days and must use the least-restrictive means necessary for that detention. After 20 days, federal authorities must transfer custody of children either to their legal custodians or to facilities that are licensed by state child-welfare organizations to care for children.

The only change since 1997 involved a 2015 court ruling that further expanded the definition to include adults traveling with parents – rather than just children to remove ambiguity about the detention policy for family units. Yes, it was the court system under the Clinton and Obama administrations that defined these policies. They have nothing to do with President Trump or his administration.

Given the crush of asylum seekers and illegal immigrants being detained at the southern border the average process time for cases to be heard has reached six months. With this being the case, the settlement calls for minors to be transferred to child specific facilities no later than 20 days after apprehension.

Literally, each administration has operated under this policy. This means that the same policy in play today was used during the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations prior to what’s occurred under the Trump administration. Representatives Shalala, Wasserman Shultz and Murcasel-Powell were evidently not concerned when the Homestead facility was in full use during the Obama administration but seem awfully concerned these days.

The President is correct when he states that it would be unlawful for his administration to not operate the three facilities specific for children because that’s the current legal status settled in the courts.

Submit your question by one of these methods. 

Email: brianmudd@iheartmedia.com

Twitter: @brianmuddradio

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Photo by: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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