Court again says federal agencies are failing to treat detained children humanely | CLINIC

Court again says federal agencies are failing to treat detained children humanely

Jun 29, 2017

SILVER SPRING, Maryland – A California District Court judge has again ruled that the federal government is not complying with the Flores v. Sessions settlement, ruling that the Department of Homeland Security is not appropriately caring for children in its custody.

The nationwide settlement agreement regulates the treatment and conditions of children detained in federal immigration custody and creates a presumption in favor of release.

Judge Dolly Gee’s June 27 ruling says DHS continues to violate the Flores agreement by detaining children in secure, unlicensed facilities (i.e. family detention centers), holding them for too long, and not “making and recording continuous efforts to release” detained children.

Gee also held Customs and Border Protection accountable under the Flores agreement, requiring the agency to provide basic, humane treatment of all children in its custody. That includes providing access to clean drinking water and adequate food, reasonable sleeping conditions and freedom from unsanitary conditions and extreme cold temperatures. The judge also ordered DHS to propose a juvenile coordinator to monitor and report DHS compliance with the Flores agreement.

“The detention of children and their mothers is inhumane and incompatible with a fair and just legal process,” said Jeanne Atkinson, CLINIC’s executive director. “This ruling affirms that children being held by ICE and CBP must be treated with dignity. But the reality is, there is no acceptable way to detain children.”

“Not only are children being detained at taxpayer expense, but this detention is immoral and induces trauma in vulnerable children,” Atkinson continued.

The Flores settlement dates to 1997, the result of a class-action lawsuit over how federal immigration authorities treat children in their custody. The latest ruling came in a series of legal efforts over whether ICE and CBP have breached the agreement.

CLINIC, in partnership with the American Immigration Council, the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, and the American Immigration Lawyers Association, collectively known as CARA, joined forces in 2015 in response to the federal government’s significant expansion of family detention in the Rio Grande Valley. The CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project established a robust pro bono legal services project to help detained mothers and children in Dilley, Texas, which continues today as the Dilley Pro Bono Project.