Flores case lawyers want to limit detainment

A regulation may end the 20-day limit

By Priscilla Alvarez, CNN
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(CNN) - Lawyers in the Flores settlement case filed a brief Friday reiterating their request to block a regulation that would scrap a 20-day limit for holding migrant children in detention.

Last week, the Trump administration announced plans to end the so-called Flores settlement agreement that requires the government to release children from immigration detention without unnecessary delay to their parents, other adult relatives or licensed programs. In their filing, plaintiffs in the case argue that the administration's rule replacing the 1997 agreement, which had set nationwide policy for the detention and treatment of minors in immigration custody, "fails to implement the settlement and is grossly inconsistent with it."

The case is before the US District Court Central District of California, Western Division.

Among other things, the Flores settlement required immigration officials to give detained minors a certain quality of life, including things such as food, drinking water, medical assistance in emergencies, toilets, sinks, temperature control, supervision and as much separation from unrelated adults as possible, according to a Congressional Research Service report.

The Trump administration has been pushing to end the settlement, arguing the restrictions get in the way of immigration enforcement. Last year, the administration unveiled its proposed federal regulations to nullify the court case.

Following the administration's announcement, attorneys moved to block the proposed change, saying it would violate the settlement. The judge put the ruling on hold until the regulation was finalized, which occurred earlier this month.

The settlement has been a continued point of contention, as administration officials argue it would ultimately deter migrants from journeying to the US-Mexico border and advocates push back against the prolonged detention of children.

Earlier this week, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, along with 18 other state attorneys general, announced a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration's new rule.

"This new Trump rule callously puts at risk the safety and well-being of children. It undermines a decades-old agreement reached in court by the federal government to prevent the unlawful detention of immigrant children," Becerra said in a statement. "We're taking the Trump Administration to court to protect children from the irreparable harm caused by unlawful and unnecessary detention."

Over recent months, there's been an uptick in family apprehensions at the southern border. So far this fiscal year, Border Patrol has arrested nearly 430,000 families for illegally crossing the border.

CNN's Geneva Sands contributed to this report.

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