September 18, 2019

Rep. Takano Introduces Bill to Prevent the Trump Administration from Holding Immigrant Children In Detention Indefinitely

Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.), introduced The Protecting Flores Agreement Act, to prevent the Trump Administration from carrying out their proposal to overturn the Flores Settlement Agreement and permit the detention of children indefinitely while rolling back protections regarding their access to safe and sanitary conditions.

“Terminating the Flores Agreement is just another tactic the Trump Administration is using to execute the President’s extreme anti-immigrant agenda,” said Rep. Mark Takano. “This agreement mandates a limit on the amount of time minors can be held in federal detention and sets standards for safe and sanitary facilities by which the federal government must abide. These are protections we cannot strip away. With the potential of a new HHS child detention facility being established in the Inland Empire, this bill will preserve a layer of accountability that is necessary for preventing the mistreatment of children. I will not allow this president to continue targeting minority groups, separating families, and instilling fear in our communities.”

The Flores Settlement Agreement was a 1997-era agreement born out of the U.S. Supreme Court case in Reno v. Flores, which set national standards for the treatment and placement of minors in federal custody. Since 1997, the Flores Settlement Agreement has called for the detention of child migrants to be limited to 20 days and has served as long standing precedent.

Reporting has previously pointed to the administration’s actions that are in violation of this agreement – including instances where they argued that they were not legally required to provide children with soap and toothbrushes. A federal appeals court ruled against them.

In August 2019, the Trump Administration proposed a rule that directly challenges the validity of the Flores Settlement Agreement. Their proposed rule would allow for the indefinite detention of children and would give the Trump Administration a green light to keep immigrant children in conditions that are unsafe and unsanitary. The Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services have intended to withdraw from the Flores Agreement altogether. This proposed rule will take effect 60 days after it is issued, and a public comment period is underway. The Protecting Flores Agreement Act was introduced in direct response to this proposal by the Trump Administration.

This legislation would prevent the Trump Administration, or any other Administration, from acting in violation to the Flores Settlement Agreement by prohibiting the use of federal funds to violate any terms of that agreement. 

Original cosponsors of this legislation include: Reps. Suozzi (NY-03), Velázquez (NY-07), Holmes-Norton (DC-At Large), Engel (NY-16), Meeks (NY-05), Murcasel-Powell (FL-26), Serrano (NY-15), Correa (CA-46), Pingree (ME-01), García (IL-04), Vargas (CA-51), Soto (Fl-09), Chu (CA-27), and Sánchez (CA-38).


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