June 20, 2018
Today, U.S. Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52) issued this statement following the Trump Administration’s Executive Order to indefinitely detain families attempting to enter the United States without a valid visa, regardless of whether they are seeking asylum.
“This Order might appear to provide a short-term fix on behalf of desperate families, but it instead is seriously flawed and destined to fail. The courts have already ruled that it is against the law to detain children indefinitely, which is what is called for in this Executive Order. It will be challenged immediately. Instead of using Executive Orders to score political points, we should come up with a real plan to address the serious lack of judges that decide immigration cases, and focus on bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform,” said Rep. Peters.
“While families wait for a decision on their immigration status, we can treat them with respect and dignity that demonstrates American values to the rest of the world. I stand ready to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass legislation to address this humanitarian crisis,” Rep. Peters continued.
The 1993 Flores v. Reno decision held that unaccompanied minors cannot be detained for more than 20 days. It required the government to prioritize placing children with a relative or family friend without unnecessary delay, and set a standard of care for children held in detention. Any attempt to indefinitely detain children with their parents violates these court rulings. In 2016, a Ninth Circuit Court found that the Flores decision also applies to children who arrived in the country with their family.
While a recent government spending bill provided funding for 100 new immigration judges, reports indicate that more than 524 judges—and their staff—are needed to process the backlog of cases in the immigration court system.
Yesterday, Rep. Peters helped introduce the Keep Families Together Act, which would prohibit Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials from separating children from their parents, except in extraordinary circumstances. Last week, he spoke out on the House floor to demand an immediate change to the separation policy. Rep. Peters joined his colleagues in early June to ask that the Appropriations Committee limit the Department of Homeland Security’s ability to use funds allocated to separate children and parents.