NHLA Condemns Trump’s Attempt to Indefinitely Detain Immigrant Families and Children

Aug 23, 2019

  Commentary: The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA) condemns the Trump administration’s issuance of a final rule seeking to terminate the Flores Settlement Agreement that requires the federal government to not detain immigrant children for a period greater than 20 days.  NHLA, a coalition of 45 of the nation’s preeminent Latino advocacy organizations, calls on the Departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services to withdraw the rule in its entirety.  The announcement of the new rule – which would allow the federal government to detain children alongside their parents for the pendency of their immigration case – is an attempt by the Trump Administration to indefinitely detain immigrant families.  Congress must swiftly pass a joint resolution under the Congressional Review Act disapproving of the rule, with a veto-proof majority, in order to invalidate the Administration’s cruel and unlawful attempt to cage innocent children indefinitely.



“Bipartisan supermajorities in both houses of Congress should act immediately to repeal this cruel and disgusting rule; our national soul is at stake,” said Thomas A. Saenz, NHLA Chair and MALDEF President and General Counsel.  “There is no excuse for anyone in Congress to cave to Donald Trump, who prioritizes the profits of private prison operators and the perverse psychic desires of white nationalists, and who willingly subjects innocent children to the trauma, including substantial health risk, of being imprisoned for no legitimate reason.”


“Once again the Trump administration is displaying its racist and xenophobic position by targeting immigrant families. Detaining children, arbitrarily keeping them from their liberty, and holding them hostage to nefarious, cruel and inhuman living conditions is inadmissible," said Hector Sanchez Barba, Executive Director, LCLAA.  "Our community will not remain silent in the wake of these aggressions. We are committed to seeing justice prevail, we will mobilize, organize and resist this administration's brutal anti-immigrant agenda." 


“Migrants journeying to the U.S., many of whom are fleeing severe gender-based violence and threats to their safety, should be able to pursue claims of asylum under international norms rather than be subjected to further-traumatization,” said Patricia Tototzintle, CEO, Casa de Esperanza. “Research has demonstrated the negative health consequences and trauma that a lengthy detention causes children and their mothers. Rather than roll back critical protections for children and waste billions of dollars expanding the private prison industry, the administration should invest in effective alternatives to detention and invest resources to help address the violence and famine that are root causes of migration.”


“One of our nation’s most cherished values is kindness to those most vulnerable among us, particularly children. This proposed rule is overly cruel and directly contradicts that value,” said Antonio R. Flores, President and CEO, Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities. “The indefinite detention of children in substandard facilities within unsafe and unhealthy living conditions is un-American. The Trump administration should retract the announced rule without delay; if not, we urge the courts to afford immediate injunctive relief.”


“The Trump Administration is unfit to watch over children and families in detention,” said José Calderón , President, Hispanic Federation. “Since taking their heartless and inhumane approach to family detention, seven children have died under the custody of ICE and CBP, and hundreds of national leaders have seen first-hand the gross human rights violations that occur in these facilities. Our national priority should not be to prolong the stay of children in detention, but rather to immediately end the gross human rights violations that occur in these facilities. We demand that our federal judges and courts prioritize the health and safety of children, over the cruel policies that Trump wants to pursue through this rule on the Flores Settlement Agreement.”


“We condemn the Trump administration’s immigration strategy to dismantle and manipulate the few regulations that loosely protect migrants,” said Gabriela Lemus, Board MemberMi Familia Vota. “The swelling crisis of morality led by the President is spreading through policies that send the hate-filled message that human rights are not upheld here and that immigrants are not welcome in our country. The more aggressively this strategy is unfolded, the more violence and injustice it generates against children and their families. Mi Familia Vota will continue our community-based work defending immigrants from the dehumanizing and ruthless actions emanating from the White House.”