08/21/2019

For Immediate Release: August 21, 2019
Contact: Arianna Rosales, media [at] ilrc.org, 415-321-8511

New Trump Rules Exacerbate Miserable Conditions for Children at the Border, Dire Consequences to Follow Termination of Flores Agreement 

Today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) announced the publication of new regulations on the standard of care for migrant children detained by the government. The regulations, set to be published in the Federal Register on Friday, are being put in place with the goal of terminating the Flores settlement agreement, which requires children be kept in safe and sanitary conditions and their welfare prioritized while in federal custody. The new rules will strip unaccompanied children of some of the few legal protections that apply to them and allow the government to jail children for longer periods of time in unlicensed facilities that have no oversight by any experts in the care and well-being of children. This action was taken despite the fact that several migrant children have died in U.S. custody or shortly after being released this year – after almost a decade in which no child reportedly died while in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Said Rachel Prandini, Staff Attorney at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center:

“In eliminating the limited protections against mistreatment that detained children have through the Flores agreement and cruelly prolonging their detention, the Trump administration has made the decision to subject children – who are oftentimes already traumatized – to further suffering that will have lifelong consequences. As overcrowded facilities fail to provide even blankets, toothbrushes, or soap to the children our government is detaining, the Trump administration is choosing not to address this crisis but to significantly worsen it. These new rules are inhumane, unethical, and immoral; the impact that they will have on migrant children cannot be overstated. 

“We should be greeting migrant children with empathy instead of immediately criminalizing them and putting them in cages. We urge this administration to look for opportunities and solutions to take better care of traumatized children in our country. In the absence of leadership from the White House, we call on Congress to step up and pass legislation that will protect children from further mistreatment.”

The ILRC, one of the few national technical assistance organizations with expertise on immigrant youth, published a practice advisory that explains certain rights under the Flores Settlement Agreement and includes practice tips for advocates representing detained children seeking bond hearings. To view a webinar on the detention and deportation system for immigrant children, please visit: https://www.ilrc.org/detention-and-deportation-system-unaccompanied-minors-webinar-recording-0.

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The Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) is a national nonprofit that works with immigrants, community organizations, legal professionals, and policymakers to build a democratic society that values diversity and the rights of all people. Through community education programs, legal training & technical assistance, and policy development & advocacy, the ILRC protects and defends the fundamental rights of immigrant families and communities.