Coalition Condemns Proposed Rule to Circumvent Protections for MigrantChildren in Detention

BALTIMORE, MD (November 7, 2018) – Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh today joined a coalition of 18 attorneys general in submitting a comment letter to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS)expressing significant concerns with proposed regulations that would roll back protections for children held in immigrant detention facilities.

Those protections are the result of a settlement in prior litigation, the Flores Settlement Agreement, which afforded all immigrant children a right to be released from detention, set standards for their conditions of confinement, and provided meaningful oversight and monitoring of their care while in custody. The Trump administration is seeking to replace the protections in the settlement agreement with new, less protective regulations.

“The idea that DHS and HHS would weaken protections for vulnerable children is appalling,”said Attorney General Frosh. “Any action taken to strip health and welfare protections for immigrant children ignores rules that have been in place for more than 20 years and places thousands of vulnerable children in jeopardy.”

In the comment letter, the States:

  • Describe how the proposed rule contradicts important protections guaranteed by the Flores Settlement Agreement, including the presumption that all children are eligible for release into the community;
  • Address constitutional concerns with the indefinite detention of children;
  • Call attention to the evidence showing that detention is not a deterrent to immigration;
  • Highlight how the proposed rule undermines state licensing of children’s residential placements, which is a fundamental police power traditionally belonging to the States;and
  • Discuss the ample evidence of lasting harm to children from detention.

In addition to Maryland, the comment letter was signed by attorneys general from California,Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York,North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.