Immigration lawyer Los Angeles trusts, Franklin Nelson, is known for his work advocating for immigrant rights in the United States. Recently, the appalling conditions in which immigrants are being kept at U.S. detention centers have been brought to light in numerous headlines and many advocates of immigrant rights (including attorney Nelson) are left questioning the U.S. government’s compliance with the Flores settlement.
Immigration Lawyer Los Angeles Explains the Flores Settlement
The Flores settlement is a decades-old agreement in which certain obligations were imposed on the U.S. immigration authorities including:
- The U.S. government is required to release minor children from immigration detention to parents, adult-relatives, or licensed programs willing to take custody of the children without needless delay.
- Should acceptable placement for the minor children not be located immediately, the U.S. government must place the children in the least restrictive setting available for their needs and age.
- Additionally, certain standards of care and treatment of the children detained in U.S. detention centers must be implemented and maintained.
The purpose of the Flores settlement is to ensure that the best interests of immigrant children are always made a priority during the immigration detention process.
Recent Headlines Point to an Obvious Breach of the Flores Settlement
In recent news, the conditions of detention centers and the overall treatment of immigrant families with children have been brought into question. Many of these concerns have been raised following statements from children themselves following their release from U.S. detention centers.
In an article published recently in Times Magazine entitled “Cold, Hunger and Sleeplessness. Immigrant Children Describe Dire U.S. Detention Conditions”, a number of immigrant children spoke up about their experiences in U.S. immigration detention centers. Among the conditions mentioned by the children include:
- Having to sit or lay down on cold concrete floors in the immigration holding center.
- Lighting at night made it hard for the children to sleep.
- Guards kicking the children’s feet at night also made it hard for them to sleep.
- Children were still hungry after being fed “frozen sandwiches” and “smelly food”.
- Younger children and teens were all crammed together in caged areas.
- Younger children cried often and clamored for their parents.
- Toilet facilities were filthy.
- Running water was hard to come by.
- Many children had no idea where their parents were or what was happening.
- Children who did ask about their parents’ whereabouts were given no answers.
- Many children experienced dehydration in addition to hunger.
- Crowded rooms with just one window looking to the interior of the building gave children no sense of time.
- No soap was made available in the bathrooms.
- Multiple use toothbrushes were not given and even single-use toothbrushes were not given daily.
- Daily bathing or showering was not permitted.
- Children also mention not being given adequate time to speak with their parents via telephone once moved to a facility away from their parents.
- Even when children were detained in the same facility as their parents they were often separated and permitted very minimal contact over a period of days.
- Temperatures in some facilities have been described as an “icebox”.
- Children who did get the opportunity to bathe said that they had been forced to strip in front of guards who then stared at them before permitting them to shower.
- Children cite fear of the guards working at the detention centers especially after being separated from their parents.
Immigration Lawyer Los Angeles Asks: What is Being Done?
With these plentiful statements making headlines in publications of note, what is being done to rectify the situation?
As Trump continues to push for the unlimited holding of immigrants in these detention centers, immigrant advocates from all over the United States are stepping forward and speaking out. According to Time’s recent article, dozens of lawyers, interpreters, and other legal workers are volunteering their time across the southwestern United States to interview families currently in holding facilities, a youth center, and detention centers. The purpose of this is to have the voices of these immigrants heard so that the courts and the public are aware of the current conditions of immigrant detention centers. One of the attorneys who is representing child immigrants, Peter Schey, has also requested that a special monitor is appointed by the court to monitor and enforce compliance with the Flores agreement.
What Does the Government Have to Say?
In response to the claims being made by immigrants being held at these detention centers and the statements being made by children as noted above, the Department of Homeland Security has not explicitly commented. What the DHS has done, however, is offered their own reports of the detention center conditions to the court in which they state that the Flores settlement agreement is being complied with. In the pages of the report a contractor for the U.S. Customs and Border Facilities claimed to have found the air temperature to be “appropriate” at a number of the detention facilities and at a couple of the facilities, he tried the water at water fountains and found it to be potable. The claim is also made that while immigrants being held may not have cared for the food being served, it was indeed edible food and had not spoiled, the insinuation being that the individuals simply didn’t have a taste for the food they were being given.
Immigration Lawyer Los Angeles Asks What Will Be Done?
What will be done about the conditions of these detention centers, the experiences being had by immigrants while being detained there, and any need for reformation? It remains to be seen particularly as the government seems intent on turning a blind eye, but one thing is for certain – the more advocates that raise their voices in support of better conditions for our immigration detention centers, the more the powers that be will be forced to listen.
Are You in Need of an Immigration Lawyer Los Angeles Can Trust?
If you and your family have faced or are facing conditions which you believe to be a Breach of the Flores settlement, it’s time to reach out to an attorney who can help. If you live in the Los Angeles area, that attorney is Franklin Nelson of Nelson and Associates. Contact his office today by visiting this link and submitting your information online to get a call-back as soon as attorney Nelson is available.