Administration proposal to detain more families for longer periods is an ‘abomination’

SILVER SPRING, Maryland — The administration’s proposed regulations to dismantle the Flores Settlement Agreement are a blatant attempt to make an end run around the agreement that protects the dignity, respect and consideration for the vulnerability of children held in immigration custody. The proposed regulations were published in the Federal Register Sept. 7.

“These proposed regulations are an abomination,” said Jeanne Atkinson, executive director of CLINIC. “Detaining children is inhumane and a violation of all that we hold dear as a nation that has long promised to protect the most vulnerable in society.”

The proposed regulations would change current practice, as defined by the Floresagreement and subsequent court rulings, to allow indefinite detention of children in facilities that have not been licensed by the states for child care. This includes holding them in private prisons that operate under the federal government’s standards.

“There are far less costly and much more humane alternatives to detaining children and families,” Atkinson said. “We are better than this.”

A Homeland Security advisory committee, convened to advise the agency on how to improve family detention, said in its top recommendation that Homeland Security should discontinue the practice. It said “detention is generally neither appropriate nor necessary for families" and that "detention or the separation of families for purposes of immigration enforcement or management are never in the best interest of children.”

CLINIC will join other advocates for immigrants in submitting formal comments to Homeland Security about the proposed regulations. The comment period runs until Nov. 6.