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HIAS Statement on Administration Removing Protections for Immigrant Children

Silver Spring, Md.-- The Department of Homeland Security has published a rule in the Federal Register that, if implemented, would overturn the Flores Settlement Agreement, and reverse basic protections for immigrant children in this country. 

For decades, Flores helped to ensure that children in federal immigration custody would be released within 20 days, at the latest, and the facilities that held children would meet basic standards of care and be subject to independent oversight. These are lifesaving protections. The American Academy of Pediatrics said this week, “No amount of time in detention is safe for a child...Even short periods of detention can have long-lasting consequences for children.”

The rule is set to take effect 60 days from today, pending approval from the federal judge who oversees the case. We also expect to soon see litigation attempting to block these changes altogether. 

In response to this announcement, Melanie Nezer, HIAS’ Senior Vice President, Public Affairs, stated, “America, as a rule, should avoid detaining immigrant children. If our government insists on detaining children, it should invite oversight to ensure the children are being treated appropriately. Instead, DHS is signalling it plans to detain children indefinitely with no outside witnesses to monitor the children’s safety and well being. Imagine how you would feel about this if it were your child in custody.”

Nezer continued: “The Department of Homeland Security’s suggestion that locking children up for indefinite periods of time will dissuade asylum seekers from coming to the United States is unfounded. People flee their countries because they have no other options and want to be safe, and because they think that the United States is a place where they will be treated fairly and with compassion. We call on Congress to enact legislation that will enshrine Flores’ protections in law.”

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