Proposed Flores Change is Latest Attack on Immigrant Families

This statement can be attributed to Olivia Golden, executive director of the Center for Law and Social Policy

September 6, 2018, Washington, DC—After a widely criticized and shameful policy of separating migrant children from their parents, the Trump Administration is continuing its attack on immigrant families. Today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposed a regulation to weaken protections for immigrant children—those arriving unaccompanied and with family members—and make it easier to imprison children and families indefinitely.

Known as “Flores” regulations, after the court settlement that established protections for migrant children, the proposal would allow DHS to jail children with their parents in family detention centers no longer subject to state licensing requirements. Instead, the proposed regulation would allow Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to establish and enforce its own standards for family detention centers.

“The Trump Administration’s desire to eviscerate minimum standards intended to protect the health and safety of children is abhorrent,” said Olivia Golden, executive director of the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP). “Just as the horrific practice of family separation cast unnecessary pain and trauma on children, this regulation would put in place a new trauma. The practice of family detention is well-proven to profoundly harm children’s development.”

The proposal would also strip away existing safeguards for unaccompanied children by allowing DHS and the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement to reevaluate and redetermine a child’s unaccompanied status. The proposed changes would undermine the health, safety, and due process rights of vulnerable children.

Contrary to the Trump Administration’s claims, there are proven, cost-effective, and child-friendly alternatives to family detention. These include community-based programs and tracking methods as families await immigration proceedings. Jailing families is not the answer to family separation.

The proposed Flores rule is open for public comments over the next 60 days. CLASP will submit comments opposing the rule and encourages others to do the same. By speaking up forcefully, we can help fight this devastating proposal that would harm immigrant children and families.