The Trump administration is trying to kill more brown children by moving to keep them and their families jailed indefinitely, announcing a new rule on Wednesday that would terminate a decades-old court settlement that protects vulnerable migrant children who are in U.S. custody. While not perfect, the 1997 Flores Agreement improved the treatment of kids under U.S. watch, immigrant rights advocacy group America’s Voice said, prohibiting the detention of children for more than 20 days, “and, while they are detained, requires that they be treated with safety and dignity under basic standards of care.”
But in a press release announcing the rule change, the White House referred to these protections as “loopholes.” This is White House aide and white supremacist Stephen Miller through and through, and unable to separate families at the border on a basis as widespread as last year, now instead seeks to keep them jailed together, indefinitely.
Children should never be in detention, period, and it’s the children who will suffer the most because this administration has already shown itself to be wholly incapable of watching over kids. We know this because a court just had to tell officials that, yes, kids actually do require soap, toothbrushes, and other basic necessities, and in June, attorneys forced border officials into hospitalizing four detained toddlers, one of whom was so sick her “eyes were rolled back in her head.”
We also know this administration is wholly incapable of watching over kids because no kids had died under U.S. watch in years, until last year. Nineteen-month-old Mariee Juarez died after getting sick while jailed with her mom at a migrant family jail in Dilley, Texas, which the administration would use to jail more families. These prisons are commonly referred to “residential centers” and were even compared to “summer camp” by one Trump official, but when asked if he’d put his own kids in one, refused to answer.
That’s because kids don’t belong there. We all know that, and there’s been proven, humane alternatives that would better serve vulnerable families, cost much less, and even resulted in a 99% immigration court appearance rate—except the administration ended that too. The administration’s new rule change is set to go into effect in 60 days but “is expected to face immediate legal challenges, including in Flores itself,” the American Civil Liberties Union said in a statement.
The rule change “is yet another cruel attack on children, who the Trump administration has targeted again and again with its anti-immigrant policies,” said the ACLU’s Madhuri Grewal. “The government should not be jailing kids, and certainly shouldn’t be seeking to put more kids in jail for longer. Congress must not fund this.”