LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer today announced that the Cities of Los Angeles and Chicago were joined by 17 cities and counties in filing an amicus brief supporting the Plaintiffs in Flores v. Sessions as they seek an injunction to prevent the Trump administration from implementing drastic new federal rules that would result in longer detentions and lower standards of care for immigrant children.
"Cities and counties across the nation are standing up for innocent children being detained in facilities on our border," said Feuer. "Together we are demanding that the Trump Administration provide these children with the due process to which they’re entitled. And we’re calling on our nation to provide compassionate care to these kids, rather than inducing further trauma."
In 1997, the Federal government entered into the Flores Settlement Agreement (FSA) which set out a nationwide policy for the detention, release and treatment of children in custody of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, now the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Specifically, the FSA required that children be housed in non-secure, state licensed facilities and be provided with adequate access to medical care, counseling, language services and legal representation.
In September 2018, the Trump Administration, through DHS and HHS, proposed rules relating to detention of immigrant children in an attempt to undo the protections of the FSA through the federal rulemaking process. Specifically the proposed rule changes would: 1) eliminate the FSA’s requirement that detained children must be held in non-secure, state-licensed facilities during the pendency of their immigration proceedings; 2) allow for the detention of immigrant children for longer periods of time than the FSA permits; and 3) strip away a number of existing substantive and procedural safeguards that protect the children’s ability to receive adequate access to counsel, including the right to automatic bond redetermination hearings.
Instead of being consistent with the terms of the FSA, as required, the proposed rules dispense wholesale with the FSA’s most critical protections, in favor of a new detention policy for which Defendants identify no supportable justification. The rules impermissibly conflict with the express terms and the underlying purpose of the FSA – to protect the health and wellbeing of immigrant children. For these reasons, the brief asks the court to grant the Plaintiffs’ motion to enjoin the implementation of the rules.