Top DOJ official: Government can only detain families together for up to 20 days

Top DOJ official: Government can only detain families together for up to 20 days
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Senior Justice Department official Gene Hamilton confirmed on Wednesday that the government can only detain families together for “up to 20 days" after President TrumpDonald John TrumpJustice Department preparing for Mueller report as soon as next week: reports Smollett lawyers declare 'Empire' star innocent Pelosi asks members to support resolution against emergency declaration MORE signed an executive order ending the separation of parents from their children at the border.

Hamilton said that the Flores settlement — a 1997 consent decree that prohibits the federal government from keeping children in immigration detention for more than 20 days — will stay in place unless Congress or the courts take action, CBS News’ Steven Portnoy reported.

The Department of Justice is also asking a Federal District Court in California to extend the amount of time that the government can detain families for as long as their legal proceedings last.

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The announcement came shortly after Trump signed the order to end the practice of separating migrant children from their parents when caught crossing the border illegally.

It calls on the Department of Homeland Security to detain families together as they away trial.

The order also calls on the Justice Department to expedite immigration cases that involve families and calls on the Pentagon to provide space to house the families.

The administration’s policy of family separation had been widely criticized by both Democrats and Republicans and drawn worldwide condemnation.

Trump said that his “zero tolerance” policy against illegal border crossings will remain in place but children will now be detained with their parents.

“We’re going to have strong, very strong borders, but we’re going to keep the families together,” Trump said. “I didn’t like the sight or the feeling of families being separated.”

Trump had falsely tried to blame Democrats for his administration’s policy and said that federal laws and court rulings prevented him from stopping the family separations.

“Congress and the courts created this problem, and Congress alone can fix it,” Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenImmigrant advocacy groups seek restraining order to block Trump asylum policy The Hill's Morning Report - Trump faces mounting challenges to emergency declaration 2,000 asylum seekers return home, decide to stay in Mexico: report MORE had said earlier this week.