Biden administration sued for poor treatment of illegal immigrant children at intake sites

The suit argues that the Biden DOJ is failing to comply with a landmark immigration agreement

Updated: August 10, 2021 - 11:19am

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Lawyers representing illegal immigrant children being detained at emergency shelters near the U.S. southern border are suing the Biden administration for using unlicensed detention facilities.

The suit, filed against Attorney General Merrick Garland, asks the Justice Department to ensure that the Office of Refugee Resettlement – a division of Health and Human Services – is complying with the terms of the landmark Flores agreement.

That agreement requires the government to "place children in facilities that are safe and sanitary, appropriate for their age and special needs, and concerned with their particular vulnerability." 

The National Center for Youth Law, which interviewed close to 200 children for the suit, highlights the dilapidated conditions and disorganized management at the intake centers. The plaintiffs are arguing that children at the sites are subject to unsanitary conditions, served raw or undercooked food, and are not being afforded recreational activities or education. 

The lawsuit alleged disparate treatment, noting some minors have their cases resolved quickly, while others wait weeks or months to speak with a case manager. "All [I] could think about was getting to my aunt, when they would give me a worker. They called other people giving them a worker but they never called my name," one child was quoted as saying in the lawsuit.