Flores Agreement

photo credit: Nitish Meena on Unsplash

Trump’s Plans to Annul the Flores Agreement

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Aug. 21 2019, Published 7:15 p.m. ET

On Wednesday, the Trump administration announced that they have plans to end regulations set out by the 1997 Flores agreement. This notable court decision laid out safety guidelines, regulations for minors, and more

According to CNN, Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said their new plans aim to limit the number of families crossing the border. By adjusting the Flores agreement, the Department of Homeland Security will be able to detain minors indefinitely and lower the standards of safe and sanitary conditions. 

The number of migrant families coming to the U.S has jumped from 100,000 last year to more than 430,000 this year, which is what the GOP is worried about. At a news conference, McAleenan said, “by closing this key loophole in Flores, the new rule will restore integrity to our immigration system and eliminate the major pull factor fueling the crisis.”

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What is the Flores agreement? 

The Flores agreement is a set of rules that ensures the safety of minors who have crossed the border. These federal regulations were put in place after the 1997 landmark court case, Flores v Reno. 15-year-old Jenny Lisette Flores filed suit in 1985 for being strip searched, body cavity searched, and detained with adults. She was with two other unaccompanied minors. 

One of them, 12-year-old Alma Yanira Cruz, fled to the U.S in 1985 after her grandfather and uncle were killed. According to The New York Times, the now 46-year-old said that the entire experience is still too painful to talk about. The three girls were held in a makeshift holding facility in an old motel. They were held in overcrowded rooms with random adult strangers (including men), were given little food, had no access to education or contacts, and were not allowed visits from relatives. 

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The court decision ruled that children should not be held in “hard-core” detention facilities for more than 20 days. After those 20 days, family units must be released and unaccompanied migrant children would have to be sent to an approved, licensed childcare facility. It also set “safe and sanitary” guidelines to ensure holding facilities were equipped with everything children need. Overall, the case declared that detained children should be treated “with dignity, respect, and special concern for their particular vulnerability as minors.”

What Trump’s administration is planning.

With “closing this key loophole,” they will be able to detain families indefinitely without legal trouble. McAleenan, on Twitter, argued that these rules allow traffickers to exploit children and gives families an incentive to come to the U.S illegally. By implementing the “Flores Final Rule,” they can detain families in the same facility while they await immigration trials and asylum screenings

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Through his entire presidency, Donald Trump has been highly criticized for family separation policies and the poor conditions at holding facilities. McAleenan announced they plan to improve those conditions stating, “the facilities that we will be using to temporarily house families under this rule are appropriately, fundamentally different than the facilities where migrants are processed following apprehension or encounter at the border.” 

According to CNN, these three family centers are “campus-like settings.” Detainees will have access to medical services, immunizations, education, and legal council. There are also private housing facilities and families will have access to indoor and outdoor entertainment. 

The new Flores agreement blocks will not be able to be enacted until it is reviewed by the judge who oversaw the case. It will then take effect 60 days after the legislation is formally published. 

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The Backlash 

Many people have been outspoken about the injustices migrants of all ages have been facing under the Trump administration. People are seeing this new legislation as a further attack on minors who’ve crossed the border. 

Politicians and celebrities alike have been very apprehensive of the Trump administration’s immigration reforms and rhetoric. “This is yet another cruel attack on children, who the Trump administration has targeted again and again with its anti-immigrant policies,” Madhuri Grewal, with the American Civil Liberties Union, told CNN. “The government should not be jailing kids, and certainly shouldn’t be seeking to put more kids in jail for longer.” 

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi Tweeted her resentment writing, “@realDonaldTrump is seeking to codify child abuse, plain and simple. His family incarceration plan would rip away basic protections for children & violate every standard of morality. It will be swiftly defeated in the courts.”

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