Attorney General James Fights To Defend Human Rights Of Immigrant Children In Civil Detention

Attorney General James Fights to Defend Human Rights
of Immigrant Children in Civil Detention

Legal Action Seeks Immediate Relief for Children
In Deplorable and Inhumane “Torture Facilities”

NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James today announced she and a coalition of 19 additional Attorneys General from around the country filed an amicus brief to defend the human rights of immigrant children in civil detention in the United States. The amicus brief seeks immediate relief for children subjected to inhumane conditions along the U.S. border.

“Innocent children are suffering,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “The Trump Administration’s immoral actions have stripped children of basic human needs. This is cruel and inhumane. We are calling on the court to take immediate action to ensure these children receive the basic care they should have been provided from day one.”

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 bed.

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 require, among other things, that CBP facilities holding children following an 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 has failed 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, young children have been irresponsibly and dangerously tasked with the care of toddlers and infants. This treatment could inflict irreparable harm on children under CBP custody, where hospitalizations continue to occur. The federal government’s treatment of these children is in direct conflict of federal laws that say immigration authorities consider “the best interest of the child” when taking action with respect to unaccompanied immigrant children.

Attorney General James submitted the brief in coordination with the Attorneys General of California and Massachusetts — who co-led the effort — as well as the Attorneys General of Connecticut, Delaware, Hawai’i, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.