Attorneys general for 19 states and the District of Columbia sued President Donald Trump’s administration on Monday to block a sweeping new rule to indefinitely detain migrant families seeking to settle in the United States.
The lawsuit, filed in US District Court in Los Angeles, was the first in an expected flurry of litigation seeking to stop the rule, officially published on Friday, from taking effect in October.
“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,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in announcing the lawsuit.
The White House did not immediately comment on Monday evening.
The new rule seeks to scrap a 1997 agreement, known as the Flores settlement, which puts a 20-day limit on how long children can be held in immigration detention.
Even if the courts allow the new rule to take effect, there are also practical problems: paying for thousands of additional family detention beds.
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement has only three family detention facilities — two in Texas and one in Pennsylvania — that have between 2,500 and 3,000 beds.