Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford is challenging a Trump administration plan that would keep immigrant families in detention longer.
Ford announced Monday that he was joining a coalition of 20 states opposing a proposed rule that would replace the Flores Agreement, a settlement in place since 1997 that sets standards for detention conditions and generally prevents children from being detained longer than 20 days. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Central California, argues longer stays would cause irreparable harm to children and their families.
“This latest Trump Administration policy to keep children in cages for an indefinite period of time is both cruel and shameful,” Ford said in a statement. “What’s more, it reverses a longstanding court-approved settlement concerning the humane treatment of immigrant children. I stand with other states in fighting this attack on our children and families using every legal tool at my disposal.”
In unveiling the rule last week, the White House described the Flores agreement as “a loophole that results in most alien families being released into the country after 20 days” and “a magnet, drawing more and more alien families to make the dangerous journey to our border.”
White House officials said their new rule would ensure families would stay together while their immigration cases are processed, and would be “fulfilling the purpose of the Flores agreement, which is to ensure children in the Government’s custody are treated with dignity, respect, and special concern.”
The suit, however, argues that the Trump proposal interferes with states’ abilities to ensure the health and welfare of children, and undermines state detention facility licensing requirements. Critics have raised concerns that the proposed rule change would vastly expand the system of detention centers for families.
The Flores Agreement, which stems from a 1985 class action lawsuit, stipulates that children are placed in the “least restrictive setting” appropriate to their age and needs, and establishes standards for the safety and sanitation of immigration detention facilities.