New rule weakens long-standing agreement that protects immigrant children

Written by: Sarah Barnes
Date Posted: September 6, 2019

A new rule set to go into effect next month will make significant changes to a long-standing agreement that protects the safety and well-being of immigrant children in the United States.

The rule, proposed by the Trump administration last fall, removes protections for immigrant children that exist under the Flores Settlement Agreement, including limits on the length of time immigrant children can be held in detention and under what conditions, and licensing requirements for detention facilities. It will also allow children to be detained with their parents indefinitely. The Children’s Campaign submitted comments opposing the proposed rule.

The rule is being challenged in court by attorneys general from 19 states, and several organizations have filed an amicus brief to oppose the new rule, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, and ZERO TO THREE. Congress could also act to prevent the rule from going into effect.

Holding children in detention, with or without their parents, has significant and long-lasting consequences for children’s safety, health, development and well-being. Children who are detained experience trauma, stress, and anxiety, and detainment may cause developmental delays and long-term mental health risks for children. The new rule is not consistent with the requirements of the long-standing Flores Settlement Agreement, is at odds with decades of research on child well-being, and will cause unnecessary harm to the safety, health, development and well-being of children.

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.