AILA Public Statements, Press Releases

Trump Administration Lines Up End Run Around Protections for Detained Children

Belle Woods
Tessa Wiseman


WASHINGTON, DC - The Trump administration announced plans to release proposed changes to regulations that are intended to terminate the Flores Settlement Agreement - a decades-old court settlement put in place to ensure the safety and proper care of children in immigration detention.


Anastasia Tonello, AILA President, said, "These regulations would eliminate long-standing, court-mandated protections for minors, resulting in more families, including young children, being detained for longer periods of time. The proposed changes flout a federal court order ruling that the government cannot detain people for the purpose of deterrence. But beyond that, they threaten the safety and wellbeing of children supposedly under the care of the federal government. For more than twenty years, administrations have been bound by the Flores national standards regarding the detention, release, and treatment of children. Stripping away these fundamental humanitarian protections will only benefit private prisons and waste billions in taxpayer money to jail children and their parents. This administration should uphold American values and protect children in its care, use cost-effective, humane options for release from detention, and provide families and children a meaningful chance to claim asylum which our laws require, rather than implementing regulations to detain children indefinitely."

Benjamin Johnson, AILA Executive Director, added, "In the middle of the ongoing tragedy that has unfolded with the new policy on family separation, the administration is proposing regulations that would replace one form of trauma with another. The inhumane policy of punishment through family separation harmed children and parents by the thousands. Adding a new policy of prolonged and expanded incarceration of children with their parents is not a solution. Through our Immigration Justice Campaign, we have seen how children are deeply traumatized by ongoing detention. For many years, AILA and its partners have urged an end to family detention because of documented due process violations, inadequate medical care, and the detrimental mental health impact of jailing asylum-seeking parents and children. We have seen parents unlawfully coerced by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to give up their rights because of the coercive environment of family prisons. These policies and practices must end. Congress must investigate the role of private prisons profiting off this trauma and the abuse and neglect of children in these facilities, and the administration must be called to account for why, when alternatives to detention exist, those more humane wraparound programs were abruptly ended at a tremendous cost to taxpayers."


The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.