Urgent Action Needed to Protect Children and Families

Written on: October 30, 2018

This very urgent reminder/request from the Social Mission Office of LCWR will take a little time on your part, but imagine the impact it can have for thousands of immigrant families. Please note the deadline and the need to be original.


We are just about one week away from the November 6 deadline to comment on the proposed Flores regulation, a regulation that would threaten immigrant children and families with indefinite detention.

Flores Settlement Proposed Regulations and sample comment

Background

On September 7, 2018, the Trump administration published proposed Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Health and Human Services Department (HHS) regulations to implement the terms of the Flores Settlement Agreement, the 1997 legal settlement that governs the conditions of children held in immigration detention.  The proposed regulations would remove key safeguards the federal government agreed to in the Flores Agreement, including permitting the long-term detention of children, as well as long-term family detention.  In addition to permitting indefinite family detention, the rule would end existing Flores requirements that facilities holding immigrant children, including family detention facilities, be state-licensed, creating a new alternative federal licensing scheme. Also, the proposed regulations waive existing child protections in the case of “emergency,” which is broadly defined, and remove protections for unaccompanied children (UAC), including continually reassessing UACs and changing the bond hearing process for UACs in a manner that may be less favorable for them.

The 1997 Flores Settlement Agreement, the result of litigation which originated in the 1980s when children fled alone to the United States to escape civil wars in Central America, protects immigrant children from indefinite detention in unsafe and inappropriate conditions. The agreement requires that children be released from custody as quickly as possible, preferably to a parent, and that until they can safely be released they are held in the least restrictive setting; generally, in a non-secure facility licensed by a child welfare entity. We all know that the solution to holding immigrant children in cages without their parents is not to hold them in cages with their parents. Like separation at the border, this inhumane practice cannot stand. Like separation at the border, you can make the administration change course.

Sample Comments 

Please adapt the language to share why you oppose the Trump administration’s new regulations to indefinitely detain children, lower standards of care in immigration jails, and remove legal protections from minors seeking safety in the U.S. N.B. Identical comments will be discarded.

We strongly encourage you not to copy the sample comments below word for word, and instead use them as a guide to create your own unique comment.

I oppose the proposed rule “Apprehension, Processing, Care, and Custody of Alien Minors and Unaccompanied Alien Children” because:

  • Detention, even for a short amount of time, has been proven to be devastating to a child’s development, health and well-being. This proposed rule permitting indefinite detention is abusive and inhumane. The Flores settlement is in place to ensure children are treated with “dignity, respect and special concern for their particular vulnerability as minors” and the proposed rule fails to meet those standards.
  • There are proven, effective alternatives to detention—such as the Family Case Management System—that should be used instead because they are less harmful to a developing child and more cost effective.
  • It is unacceptable for the administration to have the authority to certify that its own jails are safe for children. Detention facilities have been proven time and time again to be dangerous to the health and well-being of vulnerable children.  •  The proposed rule is an unnecessary burden on taxpayers. Alternatives to detention are proven to be effective and humane. The proposed rule is a needless cost and a poor and wasteful use of resources.

Sample Conclusion

Our faith, and the ideals upon which this nation was founded, call us to be mindful of the common good, to embrace our neighbors, and to care for our children. I / ( The Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart) urge DHS and HHS to reject the proposed regulations or to make revisions to ensure that children are protected and the regulations are consistent with the purpose and spirit of the Flores Agreement. N.B. Identical comments will be discarded.

Send comments to:

  • Mail: Debbie Seguin, Assistant Director, Office of Policy, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Department of Homeland Security, 500 12th Street SW, Washington, DC 20536. To ensure proper handling, include DHS Docket No. ICEB-2018-0002 in your correspondence.

Public comments must be postmarked by the submission deadline: Nov. 6, 2018


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The Grey Nuns