Today, the administration took steps that will ensure that children are detained for longer periods of time in detention centers with fewer safeguards and standards.

Our young clients tell us that they come to the United States to be able to escape violence and to live in a place where they can grow up without fear. Over the last few months and years, they have also told us that treatment received while in the government’s custody falls far short of meeting their basic needs, and often verges toward abuse. Some of our clients have said that they are treated like animals.

These proposed changes mean that many children will have to choose between being held in a facility where their freedom is severely curtailed or their rights are violated, or returning to a country where they face a high likelihood of serious harm. Removing safeguards and licensing standards from children and family detention centers will ensure that more children are harmed while in the custody of the federal government. The safe and humane treatment of children should not be up to politics.

Allowing children and families to be detained indefinitely violates both the Constitution’s due process protections as well as the basic human right to seek safety and apply for asylum. Children and families should not have to wait behind bars when numerous studies have shown that the vast majority of asylum seekers–especially when provided with basic information about the legal process–come to their immigration court hearings. The research also shows that children in particular suffer when they are indefinitely institutionalized, which is what this change in law proposes to do.

The Florence Project strongly opposes the proposed changes to the Flores settlement, and will continue to fight so that our clients can pursue legal protection outside of detention. Thank you for your support.