As it moves toward ending the court-ordered agreement that prevents the indefinite detainment of migrant children, the federal Administration is searching for vacant properties in California that could serve as permanent detention centers for unaccompanied minors. In August, the Administration notified LA County that it is searching for local sites to detain migrant children. In response, the Board of Supervisors today approved a motion authored by Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, and co-authored by Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, to send a five-signature letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to state its refusal to help identify any County-owned property that could be used to detain migrant children and their families.
“This is yet another inhumane attack by this Administration against defenseless children. Our federal government should not be in the business of identifying property anywhere in this County, state or nation that could be used to forcibly keep children locked up in a facility that resembles a jail,” said Supervisor Solis. “This Administration seeks to increase the number of federal detention facilities for migrant youth while simultaneously attempting to strip protections that spare these children from the trauma caused by cruel and prolonged detention. These unconscionable policies must stop. Taxpayer dollars should instead be redirected to ensure these minors are treated humanely and are immediately reunified with their families and qualified sponsors.”
“Among the many inhumane and devastating actions taken by the current federal administration, the policies that separate children from their parents, inflicting physical and psychological harm on whole families, is among the worst. This Board must do everything in our power to block the Trump White House from continuing, much less expanding, these despicable practices that are just the opposite of decency, and American and human values,” said Supervisor Kuehl.
Several medical and mental health experts, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, have documented the ways in which prolonged detention of children subjects them to irreparable harm. Even the facilities currently operated or overseen by federal authorities have failed to provide migrant children with adequate shelter. Since September 2018, at least seven migrant children have died in a federal detention facility, and thousands more lack food, clean water, or basic necessities as they endure unsanitary and unsafe temporary housing conditions.
In one of its most flagrant acts of disregard for the well-being of children who are in the care of the federal government, this Administration has announced plans to end the 1997 Flores Settlement Agreement, which limits the detention of migrant children to no more than 20 days. Under the court-ordered agreement, migrant children must be given access to food, drinking water, and emergency medical attention. LA County submitted comments opposing the repeal of this agreement during the public comment period, which ended Nov. 6, 2018. On Aug. 26, the state of California filed a lawsuit to challenge the Administration’s intent to terminate the Flores Settlement by October 2019.
Today’s motion directs the County’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), in consultation with the Office of Immigrant Affairs (OIA), and County Counsel, to send a five-signature letter to HHS to express LA County’s refusal to identify any County-owned property that could be used to detain migrant children and their families. This letter will also urge this Administration to swiftly reunify migrant children with their parents, relatives, or sponsors in the United States.
This motion also instructs the CEO to notify all County Departments to refrain from directly communicating with any federal agency regarding the lease or sale of County-owned property for immigration enforcement purposes. Any County Department receiving any communication to this effect must inform the CEO and County Counsel.
In addition, the motion directs the CEO, in consultation with OIA and County Counsel, to send a five-signature letter to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to express Los Angeles County’s opposition to the repeal of the Flores Settlement Agreement, and instructs County Counsel to join and/or file amicus briefs challenging the Administration’s termination of the Flores Settlement Agreement, including possibly joining the lawsuit filed by the state of California.
Today’s action marks the 41st immigration motion Supervisor Solis has authored to protect, defend, and fight for the rights of immigrants since the 2016 presidential election. Her efforts include a motion to create sensitive locations throughout the County, a $3 million dollar contribution to the LA Justice Fund, and the creation of the first-ever County Office of Immigrant Affairs. To view a complete list of these actions, please click here.
Contact: Rosa Maria Santana, Deputy Communications Director, firstname.lastname@example.org or 213-359-0795