The Flores Settlement Agreement is a 1997 court settlement that places limits on the length of time in which migrant children can be held in detention and defines the conditions under which these children are incarcerated.
President Trump’s administration has never liked, much less, respected the Flores Agreement that mandates humane care and treatment of migrant children in detention.
According to Human Rights First (“HRI”), the Trump administration last September proposed changes to the Agreement that would terminate all “legal safeguards for children, including the provision that children must be transferred to a non-secure, licensed facility within three to five days of apprehension, which has been interpreted to allow for an extension of up to 20 days in times of ‘emergency’ or ‘influx.’ The proposed regulations include a number of policies which, if implemented, would allow the government to incarcerate more families for even longer periods of time.”
Trump Administration Tortures Children to Promote Immigration Policy
The Trump administration believes that if they impose physical hardships and emotional suffering on the children of migrants who enter the country without proper documentation that will curb the flow of immigrants seeking refuge and asylum in the United States.
HRI reported that in June 2017 a U.S. District Court in the Central District of California found that the Trump administration, which had been in office just six months, was not adhering to its obligations under the Flores Agreement. Children were being held beyond the time limits and were being subjected to horrific conditions of confinement, including but not limited to:
- Inadequate provision of food;
- Inadequate access to clean drinking water;
- Unsanitary and unsafe conditions;
- Freezing temperatures; and
- Inadequate sleeping conditions.
The Trump administration responded to these judicial findings with a request to modify the Flores Agreement which would have effectively made the above inhumane conditions both legally acceptable and constitutionally sound. The U.S. District Court denied the modification request in July 2018.
Undeterred, the Trump administration continued to not only violate but tried to terminate the Flores Agreement altogether. Those efforts were so intense that the court dubbed them “persistent problems” forcing the court in October 2018 to appoint a Special Master/Independent Monitor to force the Trump administration to comply with the Agreement.
DOJ Attorney Sarah Fabian Argues for Government Sanctioned Child Abuse
This brings us to Sarah Fabian, the senior attorney in the Department of Justice’s Office of Immigration Litigation, who recently stirred a social media furor and outrage in the legal community by telling a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on June 19, 2019 that the Trump administration should not, under the Flores Agreement, be required to provide soap, toothbrushes or even beds to detained children at the U.S.-Mexico border.
That is now where we are as a nation.
Detention camps along the U.S.-Mexico border, especially those in Texas, have become inhumane cesspools. The Trump administration is taking a page out of Russia’s sordid history by turning migrant children detention camps into “gulags.”
Republican Shed Crocodile Tears for Detained Children
Texas Republican Michael McCaul (R-Tex.) told CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday, June 23, 2019, that conditions at migrant detention centers in Texas are the “worst” that he has ever seen and urged Congress to undertake the task of providing humane treatment for “these children” in those camps.
That is a shallow plea.
The Democratic-controlled House can pass all the legislation is desires, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will not bring any legislation up for a vote that displeases President Trump.
While Vice-President Mike Pence may say the conditions in these gulag-like camps are “heartbreaking” and “totally unacceptable” and blame Congress for this human tragedy, the present conditions at these detention camps is precisely what the Trump administration wants. The administration created these deplorable conditions and sent Justice Department attorney Fabian into court to not only defend them but to be able to continue the policy of abuse.
Meanwhile, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported on June 21, 2019 that the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice entered a lawsuit on behalf of female inmates housed in the Fulton County Jail who are being subjected to “deplorable conditions.”
A former Justice Department attorney, Joe Whitley, told the newspaper that “the role of the civil rights division and the Department of Justice is often necessary to assure that people who are confined are treated in a manner consistent with the Constitution.”
Children Not Protected by U.S. Government
That constitutional role apparently does not apply to incarcerated migrant children.
American jails and prisons provide basic hygiene items to all their inmates. It is a brutal irony that the Oregon prison system, by mandate of the U.S. Constitution, must provide humane treatment to Green River killer Gary Leon Ridgway, America’s worst serial killer, while the Trump administration treats helpless migrant children, who have never done a single harm to America, like gulag prisoners.
These are the tragic consequences of the “border policies” of the Trump administration: the nation’s prison systems treat adult serial killers more humanely than the Trump administration does migrant children.
American President Courts Dictators, Abuses Children
America was once considered the moral leader of the world. We are now the amoral leader of the world whose president is “in love” with Kim Jong Un, one of the world’s most murderous dictators. It’s nothing short of shameful that the American president can “love” a murderous dictator but not migrant children.
Morality has no coin in the world of political expediency.