• Administration’s Appalling Decision to Continue Detaining Immigrant Children

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    August 7, 2015--The Women’s Commission is appalled that the Obama administration continues to insist on detaining immigrant women and children in family detention centers even after a clear ruling that it is illegal.

    On July 24, federal District Judge Dolly M. Gee in California ordered that the 1997 Flores Agreement applies to children in family detention centers and that current Department of Homeland Security family detention policies including detention of class members in unlicensed facilities and conditions in Customs and Border Protection short-term custody facilities violate the agreement. The Department of Justice filed its response shortly before midnight on August 6. In their response they make clear their intention to continue to detain families – mothers and children, in unlicensed secure facilities for periods that exceed the Flores Settlement Agreement and the Judge’s order.

    “Countless reports, policy advocates, medical and mental health experts and members of Congress have criticized the practice, concluding that it is inhumane, in violation of law and unnecessary,” said Michelle Brané, director, Migrant Rights and Justice Program at the Women's Refugee Commission. “The administration itself acknowledged that family detention was not a viable practice when it ended the detention of families at the T. Don Hutto facility in Texas in 2009.”

    “The administration insists that detention is the only solution to the increased number of families and children seeking protection from ongoing violence in Central America,” continued Brané. “The administration’s logic in refuting the Judge’s decision is as shortsighted and cruel as it is illogical. The administration has failed to consider numerous other options, including humane alternatives to detention and community support programs that have been proven to be effective, and has instead resorted to the most damaging and expensive policy at hand.”

    The administration also refuses to comply with the judge’s order to produce standards to meet the safe and sanitary conditions at border patrol stations, claiming that they already have standards and that the judge’s order is too broad.

    “It is time for President Obama and the Department of Homeland Security to face reality, recognize that this is a refugee situation, comply with the law and stop detaining families,” said Brané.