Confusion reigns over fate of detained migrant children - Whisper Eye

Confusion reigns over fate of detained migrant children

The fate of hundreds of undocumented children taken from parents remains unclear a day after President Donald Trump moved to roll back his policy.

He ordered on Wednesday that the children be held with their parents, who are held on criminal charges of crossing the border illegally.

But under US law, migrant children cannot be detained more than 20 days by immigration officials.

Melania Trump is visiting a child immigration detention center in Texas.

US officials have expressed mixed messages about what happens next to at least 2,300 children taken from their parents after illegally crossing the border since 5 May.

While the adults are held in custody pending court appearances, the children are being sent to holding cells, converted warehouses and desert tents.

The president’s executive order makes clear adults entering the US illegally will still be prosecuted. It also calls for:

  • Immigrant families to be detained together while their legal cases are considered
  • Expediting immigration cases involving families
  • Requesting the modification of a court ruling that dictates how long immigrant children can be detained
  • Agencies, including the Pentagon, to construct facilities or make existing facilities available “for the housing and care of alien families”

If the administration wants to detain migrant families together indefinitely while their cases churn through the legal system, it needs Congress or the courts to change the existing rules.

Under a 1997 ruling, undocumented children can be detained for no longer than 20 days by US immigration officials.

But analysts say it is unlikely the courts will overturn the limit on detaining minors within the next 20 days.