Lawyers representing children in U.S. immigration custody filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration, alleging substandard conditions and inadequate services, among other things.
The lawsuit, which names Attorney General Merricks Garland, alleges that the Biden administration is violating the 1997 Flores Settlement Agreement and its rules that dictate how the administration can treat migrant children. The federal government is legally obliged to follow the agreement.
It asks the court to expedite the release of the migrant children from two facilities.
Under the Flores agreement, the federal government is required to place migrant children in state-licensed shelters that meet specific standards and requirements for care, including recreational activities and education.
The government has to “place children in facilities that are safe and sanitary, appropriate for their age and special needs, and concerned with their particular vulnerability,” the law states, The Epoch Times reports.
It also gives the government no more than three days to do so after the child is taken into custody.
In detail: At the center of the lawsuit are two emergency intake sites (EISs), which are overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services. The Biden administration opened these makeshift housing facilities amid a surge of migrant children at the southern border. They were established at the Fort Bliss U.S. Army base and a camp for oil workers in Pecos, a remote town in Texas.
The lawsuit features testimonies from more than a dozen children who live in such facilities that do not have child welfare licenses. They have reported substandard conditions, inadequate services, mental distress, and prolonged stays.
For example, the complaint says that children at Fort Bliss lived in “filthy conditions” and those at Pecos, who are required to clean their living spaces, lack appropriate cleaning supplies. Other reports, included in the lawsuit, claim that the workers in the shelters have little experience with taking care of children, that children are served raw or uncooked food, and that the emergency intake sites lack recreation and education.
Worth noting: The conditions featured in the lawsuit have been largely reported in the media.
What they’re saying: “Children have described spending the bulk of the day on or around their cots crammed in massive tents with hundreds of other children, suffering escalating anxiety attacks from the stress of the harsh EIS environment, going weeks without clean clothes or underwear, and spending months without going outside for some fresh air,” Leecia Welch, the senior director of Child Welfare and Legal Advocacy at the National Center for Youth Law, which represents the children in the lawsuit, said in a statement.
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