Trauma continues for immigrant children in US detention


Trauma continues for immigrant children in US detention

Meenakshi Jagadeesan

7 July 2018

Following public protests and rallies around the country, the Trump administration has formally ended its practice of separating immigrant families. However, the end of family separation has not meant a change for the better, particularly when it comes to the fate of immigrant children. For one, there’s still the question of how as many as 3,000 children still in federal custody will be reunited with their parents. Beyond that, what should be of great concern is what will happen to immigrant children even if the families are kept together.

In the past couple of decades, US immigration policy with regard to children has been guided by a 1997 court settlement known as the Flores agreement. The agreement has been widely interpreted as requiring the Department of Homeland Security to release undocumented immigrant children from custody after 20 days. Under the Flores framework, prior administrations generally tended to release families with children to pursue their immigration claims while living in the US. The “catch and release” policy was one of the early targets of Trump’s ire.

Having now been forced to back-pedal on family separations, the Trump administration has declared that it “will not separate families but detain families together during the pendency of immigration proceedings.” However, such cases can take months or even years before being resolved. What this means is that the federal government plans to systematically violate the Flores agreement, and hold young children in detention facilities for unspecified periods of time.

The horrific conditions in the shelters where children torn from their families were placed have been widely exposed. The family…

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