Acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli has backed the recent changes to the Flores settlement agreement, announced by the Trump administration, as a “deterrent” for immigrants attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border. The changes would allow for immigrants to be detained together indefinitely.
“This is a deterrent, because they know that instead of rushing the border, which is what’s been going on for a number of years now, by using the massive numbers coming to the border and overwhelming our facilities and our capacity to hold folks and our court rulings, which is what the Flores rule was, that now they can and will to the extent we’re able to do so, hold them until those hearings happen,” the immigration official said in an interview Friday with CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on “New Day.”
The Flores settlement agreement obliges the government to release a minor from a non-licensed facility as quickly as possible, which is no later than 20 days.
On Wednesday, the Trump administration announced the changes that would allow the government to use either a state license or Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention standards, which in turn means that families can be detained more than 20 days.
The move aims at altering immigration laws amid a jump in the number of families and unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. Cucinelli, who praised the decision, said that the Flores agreement was “one of the main motivators for the crisis at the southern border” and the changes were “part of the solution.”
“This solves the problem by demonstrating to families that are considering coming to the southern border illegally, that they will be detained for the duration until their hearings can be held,” Cuccinelli said, adding that now migrants who are released are never seen again.
The new regulation is certain to face litigation and must also be reviewed by the federal judge who oversees the Flores settlement. It will go into effect two months after it was formally published.