On September 7, the Trump administration took another step toward eliminating basic protections for immigrant children and their families who enter the U.S. without documentation—including those legally seeking asylum, by issuing a notice of proposed rulemaking (proposed regulation) that would dismantle constitutional protections for children established by the Flores Settlement Agreement governing the detention and treatment of children in U.S. immigration custody. The proposed rule would make a number of changes to both DHS and HHS regulations and policy, and it would terminate the Flores settlement 45 days after it is finalized.
Among the changes, the proposed regulation would:
- Make way for the U.S. government to hold immigrant families indefinitely—certainly longer than the current 20 days required by the Flores Agreement—until parents can have their cases adjudicated, which can take months or years;
- Relax or altogether remove basic human rights standards including where and how children and families are housed and what they are fed;
- Weaken protections for Unaccompanied Alien Children (UACs) including a call for on-going redetermination of whether a child fits the definition of UAC at every encounter, increasing the likelihood that he or she will lose this important designation and accompanying protections.
The comment period for this proposed rule ended on November 6. Over 62,000 comments were submitted, helping build a strong administrative record in opposition to this proposed regulation and stop this administration from gutting protections provided under Flores.