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Office of the Vermont Attorney General

Vermont Joins Coalition Defending Human Rights of Children in Immigration Detention at Southern Border

July 10, 2019

CONTACT:    Charity Clark, Chief of Staff, 802-828-3171

Attorney General T.J. Donovan announced today that Vermont joined a coalition of attorneys general in filing an amicus brief to defend the human rights of children in civil immigration detention near the southern border of the United States.  The brief argues that the federal government has failed to meet its legal requirement to hold children in “safe and sanitary” conditions, and urges the court to grant immediate relief to immigrant children detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The brief supports an effort to force the federal government to immediately rectify cold, unsanitary, inhumane conditions at detention centers holding children, and make every effort to promptly transfer children to state-licensed facilities.

“The treatment of children detained at the border is contrary to the rule of law and it is un-American,” Attorney General Donovan said. “It is a stain on our country.”

The standards of humane treatment of children at border facilities and the requirement that children be promptly transferred to state-licensed facilities or released was established in the Flores Settlement Agreement, which has served as the minimum standard for more than twenty years. However, under the Trump Administration, children have been held for weeks in inhumane conditions without access to basic necessities like soap, clean water, toothbrushes, showers, or a place to sleep.

The states’ amicus brief argues that CBP is blatantly failing to comply with its obligations under the court-monitored Flores Settlement Agreement. Children are being denied access to safe and sanitary conditions, clean drinking water, and medication. In addition, CBP dangerously and irresponsibly tasks children with the care of toddlers and infants. This treatment inflicts irreparable harm on children under CBP custody, where hospitalizations continue to occur. The federal government’s blatant disregard of its obligations under the Flores Settlement Agreement conflicts with federal statutory requirements that immigration authorities consider “the best interest of the child” when taking action with respect to unaccompanied migrant children.

In submitting the brief, Attorney General Donovan joined the Attorneys General of California, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

A copy of the brief can be found here.

Last modified: July 10, 2019