The administration of US President Donald Trump says it has the right to detain children and parents caught crossing the US-Mexico border illegally for the duration of their immigration proceedings.
The US Justice Department said Friday that a ruling this week by a federal judge in San Diego, California, requiring the government to reunify families separated at the border means authorities can legally keep families detained until their cases are complete.
The interpretation means immigrant families could spend months or even years in detention – even those seeking asylum – because of a years-long backlog in immigration court.
The Justice Department has previously said that cases in which immigrants are kept in custody move through the system quicker than if they are released.
“The Trump Administration has been engaged – since January of 2017 -in restoring order to the lawlessness at the Southwest border and protecting our nation’s citizens,…