Today, the Trump Administration announced that it would release a final rule that ends vital safeguards for immigrant and refugee children in government custody. KIND is gravely concerned the final rule would subject children to indefinite detention in conditions largely at the government’s discretion and in unlicensed facilities with no third-party oversight, and strip children of protections that help them make their case to stay safety in the U.S. The Administration first proposed the regulations in September 2018.
“From the suffering children have undergone in facilities like those in Clint, TX, to interviews KIND conducted with detained children earlier this summer, it is clear that safeguards for these children are needed more than ever,” said KIND President Wendy Young.
In dozens of interviews with children in immigration detention earlier this summer, children told KIND about overcrowded and inhumane conditions and poor treatment in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) custody. Children reported being held for a week or longer (a violation of U.S. law) in frigid facilities that were so overcrowded they needed to sleep sitting up so that they did not lay on other people.
Children also reported that they did not have enough food. Some children were given food at 2am, which prevented them from sleeping through the night. Children told us that they were not allowed to shower, change clothes, or brush their teeth. Two children told KIND about having requested medical attention but were denied. One of the children ultimately received treatment at a hospital, while the other child received no care.
“The final regulations must not run counter to the terms and the spirit of the Flores Settlement Agreement and cannot be a substitute for the critical protections it provides,” Young said. “Instead of seeking to eliminate basic standards, the government should renew its commitment to the dignity and well-being of all children in its custody.
“The Administration claims that its new regulations are necessary to address increasing numbers of children and families arriving at the border and to ensure family unity. Yet we know that neither detention nor deterrence can stop a refugee crisis, and that holding more families in jail in inappropriate conditions is not the answer,” said Young.
On September 5, 2019, KIND, joined by six other legal services organizations, filed an amicus brief in support of the Plaintiff class in Flores v. Barr, 2:85-cv-04544-DMG-AGR. The Plaintiffs have requested that the Flores settlement agreement remain in effect on the grounds that the government’s final regulations, published August 23, fail to fully implement the Flores settlement and thus do not adequately protect children with regard to apprehension, detention, transfer, treatment, and release.Our amicus brief focuses in particular on the rights of unaccompanied children.