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Rep. Chu Statement on Trump Administration Plan to Abuse Immigrant Children

August 22, 2019
Press Release

Washington, DC — Today, Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan announced a final rule instituting numerous significant changes to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Health and Human Services (HHS) policy that will undercut protections for immigrant children. The regulation attempts to undermine the Flores Settlement, which protects immigrant children in DHS custody from harmful or inhumane conditions, for instance, mandating that children be held for no longer than 20 days. This new regulation would expand the authority of DHS to detain families in poor conditions and dismantle established protections for immigrant children in DHS and HHS custody. Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27), who has introduced legislation to shut down child immigrant detention centers and has visited them in person, issued the following statement:

“The Flores Settlement is a court ordered settlement that required the government to act in the best interests of the child and ensure that children are placed in the least restrictive setting. Intentionally undermining it is a declaration from this administration that they are seeking to harm children. We cannot allow this. As a psychologist who has visited the child immigrant prison camps at our border, I know the damage detention can cause. Children at these facilities lack the freedom and support they need to grow and develop in age-appropriate ways. They are not even allowed to go to the bathrooms by themselves. That is why I opposed these ‘emergency influx’ facilities and introduced legislation to shut them down. Any amount of detention is harmful to a child’s development. That’s been confirmed by doctors and health care professionals like the American Academy of Pediatrics. Choosing, then, to reject standards of care and detain these children indefinitely is tantamount to intentional child abuse. Children should not be detained at all. In the past, we have allowed children seeking asylum to await their day in court in the safety of communities with loved ones. But Trump is choosing instead to lock them up in unsafe and unsanitary prison camps, using their suffering as a message to other immigrants that they are not welcome here. I expect the courts to stop this detrimental and abusive policy change from happening. Taking care of children is one of the most basic tenants of a society, and this Administration seems unwilling to do even that.”