California to sue Trump administration over new migrant children detention policy, Newsom says

Migrant family in San Antonio after being released from federal detention
A young boy holds hands with his mother at a bus station in San Antonio after they were released from a family detention center in Texas in July.
(Eric Gay / Associated Press)

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday that California will join other states in filing a new lawsuit as early as next week that seeks to block the Trump administration’s efforts to indefinitely detain immigrant minors and families with children.

“It’s an assault on the Flores decision,” Newsom said of the administration’s new regulations during an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “Clearly, I think it will be rejected by the courts, and the answer to your question is California will once again assert itself in the court of law.”

The Department of Homeland Security announced plans this week for new regulations that would roll back protections for migrant children. Trump officials are taking aim at the 1997 Flores settlement that set minimum standards of care for youths in U.S. custody. The government is generally prohibited from detaining children who traveled to the U.S. alone or with their families for longer than 20 days.


Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan blamed the Flores settlement for an influx of Central American families coming to the U.S. border and said the administration’s new regulations would deter migration. President Trump also inaccurately claimed that former President Obama started separating immigrant families.

The regulations, which federal officials expect to publish Friday, add to an ongoing battle over the Trump administration’s ability to hold migrant families and the conditions that immigrants endure in detention centers.

“Seven young children have died since Trump was inaugurated as president, not one died over eight years under President Obama’s stewardship,” Newsom said during his interview with CNN. “Family separations happen under this administration.”

Nathan Click, a spokesman for the governor, declined to offer any additional information about the timing of the lawsuit or its contents. The office of Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra, whose attorneys represent the state in court, also declined to comment.

As of last week, California had filed some 56 lawsuits against the Trump administration on a variety of issues, including healthcare, immigration and the environment.

Times staff writer Molly O’Toole contributed to this report.