UPDATE (09/06): The Trump administration has proposed to end the limits on immigrant children detention by replacing the Flores settlement. Under the new proposal, the government seeks to detain migrant families together indefinitely while their immigration case is pending.
On June 20, Trump signed an Executive Order (EO) ending the separation of migrant children from their families at the U.S. border. A federal court decided in Flores v. Reno in 1997 that the government cannot detain an immigrant child beyond a reasonable amount of time, defined in 2014 as 20 days. The Trump administration's zero tolerance policy clashed headlong into Flores with disastrous results captured in news stories. With Trump’s EO now in place, the administration has said it will abide by the 20 day limit on detention for children and families, but it’s also seeking ways to overturn Flores and allow families to be detained beyond the 20 day limit. Without the limitations set by Flores, migrant children and their families can be detained together indefinitely.
Not only is the unlimited detention of thousands of migrant families morally unjustifiable, it is also economically wasteful - "tent cities" cost upwards of $800 per person per night. The reason behind detention is to ensure asylum seekers show up for their court appointments, but alternative methods are also successful in ensuring that outcome. The justice system regularly allows misdemeanor and non-violent offenders to be released pending trial, and tools like electronic monitoring, home visits, or bonds are highly effective. The Family Case Management Program launched in 2016 monitored asylum seekers while allowing them to stay together and out of detention. Immigration advocates praised the program for its 99% compliance rate, cost efficiency, and the additional medical and legal support provided to migrants. The Trump administration ended the program in 2017 to prioritize detention.
Detaining families together is no better than detaining families separately. Our government has options in how it treats migrants and asylum seekers in our country even as we defend our borders. We must choose the most humane approach available, which is not indefinite detention.
Three calls to make: Senators Kennedy and Cassidy, and Representative Richmond or Scalise
Senator Bill Cassidy: DC Office: 202-224-5824; Metairie office: 504-838-0130; Monroe: 318-324-2111; Lake Charles: 337-493-5398; Alexandria: 318-448-7176
Senator John Kennedy: DC office: 202-224-4623; New Orleans: 504-581-6190; Lafayette: (337) 269-5980; Monroe: (318) 361-1489; Alexandria: (318) 445-2892; Baton Rouge: (225) 926-8033; Shreveport: (318) 670-5192
Because of how Congressional districts are drawn, New Orleans residents have either Richmond or Scalise as their representative. If you don't know who your representative is, you can look it up by entering your home address on the U.S. House of Representatives website.
Representative Cedric Richmond - in DC at (202) 225-6636, and in New Orleans at (504) 288-3777
Representative Steve Scalise - in DC at (202) 225-3015, and in Metairie at (504) 837-1259
I’m calling to demand that the [senator / representative] oppose any effort to overrule the Flores settlement and allow the indefinite detention of migrant families. Alternative methods, such as the Family Case Management Program, have already proven successful and cost effective. Congress must work to fund and implement these methods instead of inhumane detention of children and families.
Thank you for your time and attention.
This call is adapted from 5Calls.org, which can be viewed here.