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LA County Board of Supervisors Supports Feinstein Bill to Protect Migrant Children

Washington—The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors today voted to support the Protecting Families and Improving Immigration Procedures Act, a bill introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to address several pressing problems in U.S. immigration policy.

One component of the bill would safeguard the Flores Agreement from efforts by the administration to terminate it. The Flores Agreement is a court settlement that prevents the prolonged detention of children and requires basic humane conditions during detention.

“The inhumane treatment of immigrants at the border is creating lasting psychological harm,” said Senator Feinstein. “It’s heartbreaking that children fleeing violence are subjected to further trauma by being ripped away from their families and held in unsanitary conditions for extended periods of time. This bill would stop the administration from separating families and ensure that the basic rights provided under the Flores Agreement are protected. We should all want to ensure children are treated humanely regardless of where they’re from. I’m proud the L.A. Board of Supervisors has joined us in this important effort.”

“Among the many inhumane and devastating action taken by the current federal administration, the policies that separate children from their parents, inflicting physical and psychological harm on whole families, is among the worst,” said Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. “This Board must do everything in our power to block the Trump White House from continuing, much less expanding, these despicable practices that are just the opposite of decency, and American and human values.”

“The federal Administration’s intent to repeal the Flores Settlement Agreement will inflict irreparable harm on defenseless migrant children who have come to the United States with their families to escape violence in their home countries,” said Supervisor Hilda Solis. “They are asylum seekers and refugees who are arriving at our borders in desperate search of safety and a new life. These vulnerable families, and especially children, deserve to be treated humanely, and Sen. Feinstein’s bill would help ensure these individuals are treated more justly. A migrant child is not less than human. These children and toddlers must be treated humanely while in the custody of the federal government. America has been, and always will be, a nation of immigrants. The refugees and asylum seekers arriving at our borders deserve compassion, not the appallingly cruel policies established and enforced under this Administration. By supporting this bill, we continue our mission to protect vulnerable immigrant children and keep families together.”

The Protecting Families and Improving Immigration Procedures Act would:

  1. Provide more judges: Helps clear the backlog of immigration court cases by providing additional judges and staffing. Funding in the bill would allow for the hiring of 75 judge teams – each of which includes one judge and two or three staff.

  2. End family separation: Incorporates the Keep Families Together Act, a bill that prohibits separation of families at the border unless good cause is determined by a state official or a child welfare expert.

  3. Protect Flores Agreement: Prevents the administration from overruling the Flores Settlement Agreement. This agreement prevents prolonged detention of children and prevents children from being detained in inhumane conditions by requiring basic levels of food, water and health care.

  4. Protect children in court: Protects unaccompanied children by providing them with counsel in their immigration hearings so they’re not forced to represent themselves in court proceedings.

  5. Restore judicial flexibility: Includes language that will allow judges to prioritize cases most likely to require a courtroom resolution. Judges will be able to focus efforts on cases where visas aren’t available and deportation hearings are necessary.