migrant child
AFP / Herika Martinez

Federal judicial oversight of U.S. centers housing migrant children was eliminated this week by a federal judge's ruling in favor of the federal government. This marks the end of protections for children under the Flores Agreement, a battle the government has fought since the Trump administration.

Federal Judge Dolly M. Gee ruled that the White House was correct in asserting that the Flores Agreement, which had set standards for the care of migrant children since 1997, had outlived its purpose. She agreed that new regulations would better ensure the safety of these minors. The Flores Settlement was the only legally mandated mechanism across the country to ensure that detained immigrant children were treated appropriately while in custody and were released from custody promptly.

In May, the Biden administration issued a new set of requirements and guidelines for authorities and facilities handling migrant children. However, activists have raised concerns, arguing that the end of the Flores Agreement introduces new dangers for these children, whose numbers have reached nearly 300,000 in the past two years.

What Was the Flores Agreement?

The Flores Agreement originated from a lawsuit filed in the late 1990s on behalf of four teenagers, including 15-year-old Salvadoran Jenny Lisette Flores. The lawsuit detailed how the children were detained for extended periods, often in facilities with unrelated adults, without adequate education or medical care.

The resulting agreement established standards for the detention, treatment, and release of immigrant minors. It mandated that migrant children be released to family, child welfare programs, or an adult custodian as quickly as possible. Most children were placed with close relatives while their immigration processes were pending. If release was not possible due to safety concerns, the agreement required minors to be housed in the least restrictive environment possible.

Additionally, the agreement set standards for shelters to provide food, water, adult supervision, emergency medical services, toilets, sinks, temperature control, and ventilation. It also required facilities to grant immigration lawyers access to the children.

migran children centers

New Regulations for the Treatment of Migrant Children

In general, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) S is responsible for children for the first 72 hours, after which they fall under the control of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and they remain in special centers, until an authorized adult claims them. This process can take years, and immigration lawyers have many complaints about poor conditions in some centers, especially in California, Florida, and Texas, where licensing issues are prevalent.

The partial elimination of the Flores Agreement covered specifically those centers.

The government claims the new regulations, effective July 1st, "apply and go beyond" the standards established in the Flores Agreement. These include creating an independent human rights advocacy office, setting minimum standards for emergency temporary shelters, and formalizing advancements in protocols for releasing children to families and sponsors and providing legal services.

What's next for migrant unaccompanied children?

"This is a profoundly disappointing outcome that will not only leave immigrant youth exposed to harm but will make it more difficult to enforce children's rights when those harms inevitably occur," said Mishan Wroe, an attorney with the National Center for Youth Law who argued against the government's motion.

"All children, no matter where they're from, deserve protections that support their health and well-being. We are grateful the Court took seriously the arguments we presented at the hearing and retained some independent oversight through Flores counsel monitoring for the time being."

Leecia Welch, Deputy Legal Director at Children's Rights, said, "Over the past eight years, I have been privileged to meet with hundreds of incredible children in immigration custody—many in conditions of confinement that no child should ever have to endure. If the American people could see what my counselor and I have seen, they would understand why children in government facilities need independent monitors looking out for them. Our team will hold the government accountable for its promises to keep children in unlicensed facilities safe. If they fail to provide adequate safeguards as ordered by Judge Gee, we will be back in court again."


The U.S. Government Cannot Account For 100k Migrant Children/Releasing Kids To Unknown Individuals #thestateofamerica #fypシ゚viral #foryoupage #viralvideo #fyp #senatorhawley

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