Washington (CNN)The Trump administration on Wednesday announced a proposal to detain undocumented families together indefinitely, replacing the agreement that set a 20-day limit for holding children, with President Donald Trump saying it would discourage migrants from coming to the US.
The rule, unveiled by acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan, is part of the administration’s aggressive effort to revamp immigration laws as the number of families and unaccompanied minors crossing the US-Mexico border has increased.
In recent months, the administration has proposed rules that could make it more difficult for immigrants to get green cards, worked to end temporary protected status for migrants from certain countries and limit avenues to declare asylum.
Trump said Wednesday that he’s concerned about the number of undocumented children attempting to travel into the United States, arguing the new rule would keep families together.
“I have the children on my mind. It bothers me very greatly,” Trump said.
Trump also reasserted his false claim that President Barack Obama was the person responsible for family separations, although it was the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy which led to thousands of children being separated from their parents after crossing the border illegally.
“I’m the one that kept the families together. With what we’re doing now, we’ll do even more of that, but it will make it almost impossible for people to come into our country illegally,” Trump said at the White House.
Under what is known as the Flores settlement, the government is required to release a minor from a non-licensed facility as expeditiously as possible, which has been set at 20 days.
“By closing this key loophole in Flores, the new rule will restore integrity to our immigration system and eliminate the major pull factor fueling the crisis,” McAleenan said at a news conference Wednesday.
The proposal would give the government new licensing authority, allowing the use of either a state license or Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention standards, according to a DHS official, meaning families can be kept longer than 20 days.
By Geneva Sands and Sam Fossum for CNN
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