The Trump administration published a final rule on August 23, 2019 to gut national standards for the detention, release and treatment of immigrant children outlined in the 1997 Flores Settlement Agreement. We strongly condemn the Administration’s move to dismantle these protections specifically created for children.

The new rule will allow the indefinite detention of immigrant children in facilities operated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). These facilities will not be subject to state child welfare licensing standards or oversight requirements as previously required by Flores. Just this year, we have seen alarming reports of the conditions in which children have been held in DHS facilities at the border. Alarmingly, the nation watched the Trump administration argue that it is not required to provide basic health care needs such as soap and toothbrushes for children in their custody. Therefore, we know that if the current standards for “safe and sanitary” conditions are eliminated, children will be subjected to even more horrific conditions for an indefinite period of time.

Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus on Children, made the following statement regarding the rule: “Our nation is committing a huge injustice and enormous harm to children who have done nothing to deserve this treatment. We believe that there will be drastic repercussions for the mental and physical well-being of migrant children if this rule is implemented. Basic guidelines for health screenings, nutritional standards, and appropriate living and sleeping conditions can now be violated and ignored. We agree with those who have called this an attempt to codify child abuse.”