FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 11, 2019
Contact: Matt Baca (505) 270-7148
Santa Fe, NM—Attorney General Hector Balderas today joined a coalition of attorneys general,
in filing an amicus brief to defend the human rights of children in civil immigration detention in
the United States. In the brief filed with the U.S. District Court for the Central District of
California, the coalition urges the court to grant immediate relief to remedy the imminent threat to
the health and welfare of immigrant children detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection
(CBP). Under the Flores Settlement Agreement, children have the right to safe and sanitary
conditions of detention and prompt release or placement at a state-licensed facility. However,
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, or a
place to sleep.
“It is unacceptable and un-American that President Trump continues to endanger the lives of
innocent children for nothing but political gain,” said Attorney General Balderas. “I will continue
to fight for the safety and well being of all children, irrespective of their immigration status.”
For more than two decades, the federal government has been required to meet minimum standards
for the facilities in which children who are immigrants may be confined. These minimum
standards, established in the Flores Settlement Agreement, require, among other things, that CBP
facilities holding children following arrest must be safe and sanitary. They must also provide
children with enumerated services, including access to toilets and sinks, drinking water and food,
medical assistance, and adequate supervision.
However, CBP is blatantly failing to comply with its obligations under the court-monitored Flores
Settlement Agreement. Children are being denied access to safe and sanitary conditions, clean
drinking water, and medication. In addition, CBP dangerously and irresponsibly tasks children
with the care of toddlers and infants. This treatment inflicts irreparable harm on children under
CBP custody, where hospitalizations continue to occur. The federal government’s blatant disregard
of its obligations under the Flores Settlement 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.
In submitting the brief, Attorney General Balderas joined the Attorneys General of California,
Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawai’i, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New
Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia,
Washington, and the District of Columbia.