A Los Angeles-based civil rights organization Tuesday recommended the formation of a select commission on immigration and refugee policy in response to the Trump Administration’s letter to Congress demanding that it fund the wall and terminate the Flores settlement protecting detained immigrant children.
On Friday, President Donald Trump sent Congress a letter regarding the government shutdown in which he insists building a wall is “critical to border security” and that Congress must close certain “legal gaps in America’s defenses.”
To close the most pressing loopholes, Trump insisted in the letter that Congress, among other things, terminate the Flores Settlement Agreement.
The decades-old settlement agreement Flores v. Reno — overseen by a judge in Los Angeles federal court — limits the length of time and conditions under which U.S. officials can detain immigrant children.
According to Peter A. Schey, president of the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law — which represents immigrant children detained each year and protected by the settlement — the president’s assertions about the Flores settlement are untrue.
“The settlement does not prevent families from being held together,” Schey wrote Tuesday to members of Congress in response to Trump’s letter.
“Thousands are held together every year,” the civil rights attorney wrote. “The Flores settlement extends certain rights to detained children, not their parents. Unless they are a danger or flight risk, Flores gives children the right to reasonably prompt release to parents or relatives living in the U.S. willing and able to care for them, or release to a licensed group home.”
Schey wrote that Trump wants Congress to legislatively terminate the right to release the children to their parents and relatives in the U.S.
“The Flores settlement also recently required the Government to provide mats for children otherwise forced to sleep on cold concrete floors, to stop feeding children frozen and outdated food, and to provide them with potable water and cups,” he wrote. “President Trump wants Congress to `terminate’ these minimal rights to humane treatment detained children have under the Flores settlement.”
Trump was scheduled to deliver a nationally televised address on border security and the shutdown Tuesday night.