SACRAMENTO August 26, 2019 – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey today announced that they are leading a coalition of attorneys general in filing a lawsuit opposing the Trump Administration’s new rule circumventing the Flores Settlement Agreement, which has governed the treatment of children in immigration custody since 1997. In the complaint before the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, the coalition argues that the rule eliminates several critical protections guaranteed by the Flores Settlement Agreement. In particular, the prolonged detention risked by the rule would cause irreparable harm to children, their families, and the California communities that accept them upon their release from federal custody.
“This new Trump rule callously puts at risk the safety and well-being of children. It undermines a decades-old agreement reached in court by the federal government to prevent the unlawful detention of immigrant children,” said Attorney General Becerra. “No child deserves to be left in conditions inappropriate and harmful for their age. We’re taking the Trump Administration to court to protect children from the irreparable harm caused by unlawful and unnecessary detention. With our partners across the country, we will fight for the most vulnerable among us.”
“Yet again, President Trump is disregarding basic human rights and using helpless immigrant children as political pawns to further his ideological agenda. California will emphatically assert itself to protect the welfare and safety of all children, regardless of where they come from or the color of their skin,” said Governor Newsom.
In the complaint, the coalition argues that the Trump Administration’s final rule interferes with the states’ ability to help ensure the health, safety, and welfare of children by undermining state licensing requirements for facilities where children are held. The rule would result in the vast expansion of family detention centers, which are not state licensed facilities and have historically caused increased trauma in children. The rule will lead to prolonged detention for children with significant long-term negative health consequences. In addition, the Attorneys General argue the rule violates both the Administrative Procedure Act and the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Attorney General Becerra remains committed to fighting for the human rights of people in California and around the country. In July, Attorney General Becerra led a coalition of attorneys general seeking immediate relief under the Flores Settlement Agreement for children being held for weeks in inhumane conditions without access to basic necessities like soap, clean, water, toothbrushes, showers, or a place to sleep. In 2018, California led a coalition of 18 attorneys general opposing the Trump Administration’s initial proposal to circumvent the Flores Settlement Agreement. Earlier this year, Attorney General Becerra led a lawsuit challenging President Trump’s illegal diversion of funds to construct a wall at the southern border; he released a first-of-its-kind report on civil immigration detention facilities in California; he led a multistate amicus brief challenging the Trump Administration’s “Turnback Policy;” and he co-led a multistate effort before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to defend hundreds of thousands of people who hold Temporary Protected Status.
Joining Attorney General Becerra in filing the lawsuit are the Attorneys General of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.
A copy of the lawsuit will be available online here.