Detention facilities in Texas may be allowed to hold families indefinitely

Written by: Sarah Barnes
Date Posted: December 14, 2018

Children and workers are at a tent encampment in June near the Tornillo Port of Entry in Tornillo, Texas
Children and workers are at a tent encampment in June near the Tornillo Port of Entry in Tornillo, Texas.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A recent court ruling may allow two detention facilities in Texas to hold children with their parents indefinitely. A long-standing agreement, known as the Flores settlement, prohibits migrant children from being detained in unlicensed or secure facilities for longer than 20 days, with or without their parents. Two Texas facilities are attempting to become licensed as child care facilities in order to detain families indefinitely. An appeals court recently overturned a lower court ruling—one that blocked the facilities’ attempts to obtain child care licenses—an action which allows these facilities to continue to pursue licensure.

The Trump administration recently released a proposed rule that would make significant changes to the Flores settlement—see the link for more.

We know that holding children in detention, with or without their parents, has significant and long-lasting consequences for children’s safety, health, development and well-being. Studies show that children who are detained experience trauma, stress, and anxiety, and that detainment may cause developmental delays and long-term mental health risks for children. When children experience trauma or adversity, the stress associated with traumatic events can be toxic to their developing brains unless they receive adequate support from parents and caregivers. Parents in detention may not have the ability to provide the critical support or care they want to give to their children, in order to act as a buffer against the stress and anxiety that detained children experience. This week, a 7-year-old girl died in the custody of the U.S. Border Patrol after being arrested.

Call your elected federal representatives and ask that separated children are reunited with their families or appropriate caretakers as soon as possible.

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Sarah Barnes

About Sarah Barnes

Sarah serves as the Policy Analyst for the Colorado Children’s Campaign. Prior to joining the Children’s Campaign in September 2014, Sarah taught middle school English and worked as an Interventionist at Pioneer Charter School in Denver. She was a 2011 Teach For America corps member. Prior to teaching, Sarah worked as an attorney in Denver in the areas of venture capital, mergers and acquisitions, general corporate and business law, and commercial transactions. Sarah earned a BA in English from Midland University and a J.D. from the University of Michigan.