For Immediate Release
Contact: David Card
Washington, DC – Today, the Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and Health and Human Services (HHS) made an announcement that it will issue a final regulation on the apprehension, processing, care, and custody of immigrant children.
The final regulation will be available to the public this Friday, August 23, 2019. The government is proposing to remove the requirement that minors be returned promptly to families, be held in state-licensed facilities, be housed in the least restrictive environment, and be provided education, recreation, legal representation and prompt medical care.
“By taking this action, the Trump Administration is putting children already experiencing abuse and neglect at risk for even greater harm,” said NDRN Executive Director Curt Decker. “The Administration should be focusing their efforts on returning immigrant children to their families, not making it easier to hold them longer in even more inhumane conditions.”
Children with disabilities are disproportionality represented in the population of asylum seekers who are by definition fleeing abuse and extreme adversity. As such, beginning in the Spring of 2018 the Protection and Advocacy (P&A) agencies that make up the National Disability Rights Network have been using their access authority to monitor immigrant detention facilities operated by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) to ensure the rights of children with disabilities are being protected.
Two P&A agencies have recently released reports with the results of their monitoring visits to facilities in Florida and California. These monitoring efforts are aimed at increasing transparency and ensuring the fair treatment of immigrant children with disabilities.
The new regulation proposed by the Trump Administration violates a court case known as Reno v. Flores. Under the Flores Settlement, the government agreed to place minors in the least restrictive setting that is in the best interest of the child. This setting is required to provide notice of rights, safe and sanitary facilities, toilets and sinks, drinking water and food, medical assistance, temperature control, supervision, and contact with family members, to the minors. Additionally, the Flores Settlement, and the numerous court decisions implementing it, require that children be placed “as expeditiously as possible” to a licensed facility that meets certain standards of care.
“P&As will continue their oversight work of these facilities and inform the public of the treatment of immigrant children with disabilities through our data collection and reporting,” continued Decker. “It is critical that we continue to expose what is happening to these children in our own country.”
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The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) is the nonprofit membership organization for the federally mandated Protection and Advocacy (P&A) Systems and the Client Assistance Programs (CAP) for individuals with disabilities. Collectively, the Network is the largest provider of legally based advocacy services to people with disabilities in the United States.