Agencies, Washington, The U.S. government said in a court filing on Friday that it has the right to detain children and parents caught crossing the U.S. border illegally for the duration of their immigration proceedings.
A 1997 court settlement known as the Flores agreement has generally been interpreted to require the Department of Homeland Security to release illegal immigrant children from custody after 20 days.
But Justice Department lawyers said in the filing in U.S. District Court in California on Friday that they now have no choice but to hold children for as long as it takes to resolve their immigration cases, because of a preliminary injunction issued on Tuesday in a separate immigration case.
That case, brought by the American Civil Liberties Union in San Diego, challenged the recent government policy of separating families in order to detain parents for as long as necessary under President Donald Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy.
Since that policy was implemented in May, families have been routinely separated after apprehension. Some 2,000 separated children are currently under government care.