The Department of Homeland Security announced a new rule that will go into effect next month that upends 1997 Flores Settlement Agreement. The new rule would allow indefinite detention of families with children.  

Congressmen Raul Grijalva (D-AZ3) and Andy Biggs (R-AZ5) responded quickly to the Trump administration’s decision to overturn the two decade old precedent.

Grijalva came out strong against the policy change saying that the decision will traumatize children pointing to current allegations of abuse in detention facilities.

Grijalva released the following statement:

“The Trump Administration’s latest action to indefinitely place children and their families in detention will further traumatize asylum seekers, including young children, and shows that his administration has no limits on the lasting harm they are willing to inflict,” said Rep. Grijalva. “Attempting to end the Flores Settlement Agreement, which mandates children are not held in detention except in extraordinary circumstances and establishes humane standards for the treatment of minors, is an assault on human dignity, justice and our legal system.

Already, there have been numerous abuse allegations and deaths of children under the custody of DHS and HHS. The conditions in these for-profit detention facilities are squalid and incapable of providing basic needs. This Administration has taken such a dark turn that our courts have had to step in to ensure that adequate food, medical care and hygienic products are provided to children and families. The cruelty and trauma that detained children and their families have endured under this Administration are unconscionable.

Seeking asylum is not a crime and asylum seekers should not be placed in facilities that profit from human suffering. No length of detention is safe for children. I have long supported alternatives to detention that respect the dignity of children and families, and have a proven record of actually working.

Trump and his advisors have doubled-down on the abuse of defenseless children as a re-election strategy. I support legal challenges to this latest campaign tactic by Trump and demand that Congress initiate legislative and investigative roadblocks to this violation of judicial precedent and inhumane executive actions. His administration should be held in contempt for their blatant violations of the laws protecting children.”

In his support for the change, Biggs claimed that migrants profited under the Flores Settlement Agreement and implied that the change would deter illegal migration to the United States.

Biggs released the following statement:

“Most of the Border Patrol agents I encounter have told me that the Flores decision is one of the primary reasons for the influx in illegal immigration into the United States. This rule change removes this incentive from many of the illegal aliens crossing over our southern border with children in hand. Instead of an automatically timed release into our communities, family units can be kept together while their cases are processed and vetted.

“Congress must act to codify this rule and to implement additional policy measures to curb illegal immigration and secure the border. We are one activist judge and one national injunction away from this rule being discarded, returning our system to a state of chaos. Congress’s refusal to eliminate loopholes and secure the border has contributed to the crisis. It is time for all branches of government to uphold the rule of law.”