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Attorney General Josh Stein Defends the Human Rights of Detained Immigrant Children

Release date: 7/10/2019

(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein today urged the court to force action to protect children in civil immigration detention in the United States as per the Flores settlement agreement. Attorney General Stein is part of a coalition of 20 attorneys general who filed an amicus brief that urges the court to grant immediate relief to remedy the imminent threat to these children’s health and welfare.
“The U.S. government’s failure to care for children in its detention facilities is horrific and devastating, and it will leave these children with profound long-term trauma,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “We must defend their rights and demand immediate improvements to their care.”
For more than two decades, the federal government has been required to meet minimum standards for the facilities in which immigrant children may be confined. These minimum standards, established in the court-monitored Flores agreement, require that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities holding children following arrest must be safe and sanitary. CBP must also provide children with access to toilets and sinks, drinking water and food, medical assistance, and adequate supervision, among other enumerated services.
However, CBP is failing to comply with its obligations. Under the Trump administration, immigrant children have been held for weeks in inhumane conditions without access to basic necessities like soap, clean water, toothbrushes, showers, a place to sleep, and medication. In addition, young children are irresponsibly and dangerously tasked with the care of toddlers and infants. This treatment inflicts irreparable harm on children in CBP custody, where hospitalizations continue to occur. The federal government’s blatant disregard of its obligations under the Flores agreement conflicts with federal statutory requirements that immigration authorities consider “the best interest of the child” when taking action with respect to unaccompanied migrant children.
Attorney General Stein is joined in submitting this brief by the Attorneys General of California, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawai’i, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.
A copy of the brief is available here.
In June, Attorney General Stein sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security demanding information about children and adults being held at the border as part of his duty to protect the interests of the people of North Carolina. Attorney General Stein requested information about any children who have parents, legal guardians, or other family members in North Carolina, and contact information for those relatives. This is the second letter Attorney General Stein has written to DHS. Last year, he requested information about parents and children in North Carolina or expected to be in North Carolina as a result of the family separation policy, but did not receive a response.

Laura Brewer (919) 716-6484

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