Lawyers are accusing Customs and Border Protection in San Diego of breaking their own policies and potentially the law by holding migrant children in custody longer than the agency is allowed to.
Under the Flores Settlement Agreement, the federal government generally cannot detain migrant children and their parents together for more than brief periods. The agreement states CBP should not hold children for more than 72 hours and that Immigration and Customs Enforcement should not detain them for more than 20 days.
However, asylum-seeking children are routinely held for more than 72 hours in San Diego, according to Erika Pinheiro, a staff attorney with the nonprofit Al Otro Lado.
“We are seeing cases of prolonged detention every day,” she said. “There is no rhyme or reason to it. Sometimes they are released the same day, sometimes it’s a week later. We’ve had cases of people in CBP custody for three weeks.”
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