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Attorneys want judge to stop Trump plan on migrant families

PHOENIX (AP) — Attorneys asked a judge Friday to reject Trump administration plans to detain migrant families longer than they're currently permitted and to remove court oversight of how children are treated in government custody.

The lawyers want U.S. District Court Judge Dolly Gee to block the government from implementing the rules, saying prolonged detention causes life-long trauma and that children in government custody are sometimes held in deplorable conditions.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said it would issue new regulations on how migrant children are treated.

A legal settlement overseen by the federal courts and known widely as the Flores agreement requires the government to keep children in the least restrictive setting and to release them as quickly as possible, generally after 20 days in detention.

The new rules "would eviscerate the settlement's crucial protections for vulnerable children," the attorneys argue.

Homeland Security officials say they are adopting their own regulations that reflect the settlement, which has been in effect since 1997.

They say there is no longer a need for the court involvement, which was only meant to be temporary.

The new rules would allow the government to hold families in detention much longer than 20 days.

Authorities have dealt with an overwhelming number of families and unaccompanied children who have traveled to the border through Mexico over the past year. About 475,000 families have crossed the border since October.

President Donald Trump has made immigration his signature issue, pushing for unprecedented restrictions on asylum and allowing for the separation of thousands of families at the border before reversing course after worldwide outrage.

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