September 25, 2018
OneJustice Opposes Trump Administration Effort to Increase Child Detention
September 25, 2018
[Content Warning: Child Abuse; Immigration]
On September 7, 2018, the administration revealed proposed rules that would dismantle existing protections for children in immigration jails, opening the door for the indefinite incarceration of children. The proposal would specifically alter the terms of the 1997 Flores Settlement, which requires migrant children to be released “without unnecessary delay” to licensed facilities for a maximum of 20 days during an emergency or influx. Children that are subjected to detention suffer measurable physical and psychological damage — damage that can be nearly impossible to recover from. Child welfare laws, such as the 1997 Flores Settlement, have been specifically designed to provide basic protections for immigrant children in detention and reduce and mitigate harm.
OneJustice firmly opposes any attempt to circumvent child welfare laws like the Flores Settlement.
What would this rule change mean in practice?
- Children would be held indefinitely in immigration jails with their parents for weeks or years if the family is detained during asylum proceedings;
- Children would be jailed in facilities unlicensed by state or local governments;
- Unaccompanied children would be more vulnerable to having their legal protections removed;
- Facilities would have broadened emergency loopholes for not meeting standards of care;
- Family jails would be expanded to hold 5 times more people;
- As a reminder, all of this would take place in the harsh reality that unlike in the criminal context, none of these children or families would have a right to counsel.
Even with the current protections mandated by the Flores settlement, immigration detention centers have been cited for horrendous human rights abuses, “including physical abuse, sexual abuse, blatant medical neglect, the forcible injection of antipsychotic medications, the unlawful restraint of children in distress and harsh rules that prohibit even siblings from hugging one another” according to the New York Times. The elimination of existing protections will certainly make things worse.
In addition to perpetuating and worsening the atrocious detention of children and their families, these changes to the Flores Agreement pave the way for over a 5x increase in families jailed at the US border with Mexico, reports the New York Times. Replacing the existing requirements that family detention centers be licensed by state and federal regulations with internal DHS regulations will result in an untenable situation where these jails will not be required to meet rudimentary humanitarian standards. Oversight of these facilities will be dramatically weakened. The proposed rules to override the Flores Settlement are a violation of the fundamental human rights of children and will increase the inhumane conditions that immigrant children and families are forced to experience while incarcerated.
You can take meaningful action
- Make your voice heard. The proposed rule is open for public comment until November 6, 2018 – use this formal comment period to ensure the administration hears the legal community’s opposition to the proposal, and support for child rights, child welfare, due process and access to justice.
- Volunteer to serve an immigrant family. See our opportunities listed on the Immigration Pro Bono Network website and sign up for frequent emails with direct ways to get involved.
- Donate to organizations on the front lines. See our list of nonprofits providing legal services to immigrants in need in California and around the country.
- Contact ICE directly. You can contact ICE directly at ICE.Regulations@ice.dhs.gov. Make sure to include DHS Docket No. ICEB-2018-0002.