Petition Filed to Halt En Masse Detention of Refugee Children
On February 2, 2015, the Youth Law Center along with the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, the law firm of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, La Raza Centro Legal, and the University of Texas School of Law Civil Rights Clinic, filed a motion in in U.S. District Court challenging the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) no-release policy for Central American women and children, some 1,000 of whom are currently detained in camps in Karnes City, Texas, Dilley, Texas and Leesport, Pennsylvania. The motion argues that DHS is violating a settlement agreement in Flores v. Johnson by its by its no-release policy for children apprehended with their mothers at the border; by holding children in secure (lock-down) facilities that are not licensed to take care of dependent children; and by subjecting children to unduly harsh conditions in CBP short term detention facilities near the border. The settlement agreement sets minimum standards for the detention, release and treatment and housing of children detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection on suspicion of being present in the U.S. without authorization. Under the settlement in in Flores, children are entitled to safe and appropriate placement during federal immigration custody, as well as a fair opportunity for release on bond or recognizance pending proceedings to determine whether they may remain in the United States. The settlement also obliges the Border Patrol to treat detained children “with dignity, respect and special concern for their particular vulnerability as minors” in the immediate aftermath of arrest.