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Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul
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July 10, 2019


Raoul, 19 Attorneys General Fight Inhumane Conditions in Detention Facilities

Chicago — Attorney General Kwame Raoul, as part of a coalition of 20 attorneys general, filed an amicus brief to defend the human rights of children in civil immigration detention in the United States.

In the brief filed Tuesday with the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Raoul and the coalition urge the court to grant immediate relief to remedy the imminent threat to the health and welfare of immigrant children detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The Flores settlement agreement reached in 1997 states that children have the right to safe and sanitary conditions while in detention, as well as prompt release or placement at a state-licensed facility.

Currently, immigrant children are currently being held for weeks in inhumane conditions without access to basic necessities like soap, clean water, toothbrushes, showers, or a place to sleep. The Flores plaintiffs have asked the court for a temporary restraining order to directly address these conditions. The brief filed by Raoul and the coalition strongly supports that motion.

“As a father, as the son of immigrants, and as Attorney General, I am absolutely appalled at the inhumane conditions in which our federal government is housing children. These children were brought to the United States for better, safer lives – instead they will be forever traumatized by the cruelty they experienced on U.S. soil,” Raoul said. “Every American should be outraged by our government’s treatment of migrant children at the border, and I am proud to stand with my counterparts to fight for their health and welfare.”

For more than two decades, the Flores settlement has required the federal government to meet minimum safety and sanitary standards in the facilities in which immigrant children are confined. Children must be provided with access to toilets and sinks, drinking water and food, medical assistance, and adequate supervision. However, CBP is failing to comply with its obligations under the court-monitored agreement by denying children access to safe and sanitary conditions, clean drinking water, and medication. Earlier this week, Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, expressed shock over reports of children being forced to sleep on the floor and being denied basic necessities in overcrowded facilities with poor sanitary conditions.

In addition to depriving children of adequate health care and sanitary conditions, CBP dangerously and irresponsibly tasks children in custody with the care of toddlers and infants who are also in detention. The coalition argues that such treatment inflicts irreparable harm on children under CBP custody, where hospitalizations continue to occur. Raoul and the coalition also argue that the federal government’s blatant disregard of its obligations under the Flores settlement agreement conflicts with federal statutory requirements that immigration authorities consider “the best interest of the child” when taking action with respect to unaccompanied migrant children.

Joining Raoul in submitting the brief are the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.


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