public-policy article

Proposed Rule Threatens Protections for Detained Children

September 11, 2018

By Marie Camino

The issue of family separation seems to have died down in the media as of late. However, the Administration has not slowed in their efforts to detain people at the border, and is doubling down on a proposed solution to family separation by removing restrictions in place to protect detained minors. Last Thursday, the Administration proposed a new regulation that could modify the 1997 Flores settlement agreement, which defines rules for detaining migrant children. The Flores Settlement originally stemmed from a consent decree, subsequently intended for codification into federal law, that limits how long children can be detained based on the physical and emotional trauma they face when detained in jail-like conditions for extended periods of time.

A statement released by the Administration claims that the new rule would honor the parts of Flores that mandate children be “treated with dignity, respect and special concern for their particular vulnerability as minors” while housed in detention centers. However, the rule could, in some cases, result in minors being held longer than the 20-day limit agreed to under the terms of Flores. Ultimately, the proposed rule seeks the authority to hold migrant children with their parents until their cases have been adjudicated. This process could take months.

Notably, the proposal would allow the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to expand existing family detention centers to accommodate housing families together. The rule also ensures that new detention facilities would meet current standards, “as evaluated by a third-party entity engaged by ICE.” It does not reveal who this third-party entity would be.

For more information on past legislative movement surrounding the Flores Settlement, check out our blog posts and social media communications on the issue. Additionally, check out our talking points on immigration more broadly.

The public has 60 days to comment on the proposed rule. Take action by leaving your own public comment opposing the rule here.