Particularly after a great deal of discussion during last week’s Alliance National Conference in Denver, the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities recognizes that the issue of immigration is of great concern to many members. We also heard that while already aligned with our values-based 2017-19 Federal Public Policy Agenda, this is an area we should accelerate by partnership, consistent with the agenda.

Public Charge Rule

The Alliance supports the Protecting Immigrant Families campaign, which is co-chaired by the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) and the National Immigration Law Center. This consortium’s resources include a public charge comment FAQanalysis of potential changes, and a social media toolkit with graphics and messages.

This week, the consortium added another partner, Our American Story, which has an advocacy focus on helping children thrive.  

You may submit comments on the proposed rule directly through the preferred federal rulemaking portal. Please also share your comments with the Alliance Office of Public Policy and Mobilization via email. The deadline for comments is Dec. 10.  

Flores Rule

The lesser visible Flores Rule’s comment period ends Nov. 6, and the Alliance encourages you to respond. Because of a class action suit in 1985 over the detention, treatment, and release of immigrant children, immigration authorities were bound to new obligations under the Flores Settlement Agreement (FSA).  

These obligations fall into three general categories:  

  • The government is required to release children from immigration detention without unnecessary delay to, in order of preference, parents, other adult relatives, or licensed programs willing to accept custody
  • If a suitable placement is not immediately available, the government is obligated to place children in the “least restrictive” setting appropriate to their age and any special needs
  • The government must implement standards relating to the care and treatment of children in immigration detention

The U.S. departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and Health and Human Services (HHS) have since proposed to amend regulations relating to the apprehension, processing, care, custody, and release of alien juveniles. In the rule, DHS and HHS state, “From a practical perspective, one of the most important changes from the literal text of the Flores Settlement Agreement would be the licensing requirement that applies to programs in which minors may be detained during immigration proceedings.”  

The rule is an effort by the administration to withdraw FSA and replace the agreement with regulations that aim to achieve its intent; however, since the FSA, several motions have been filed citing that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Department have failed to live up to the agreement. The courts agreed as recently as this past June. The Alliance first took a stance on this issue in June by releasing a joint statement on the administration’s zero tolerance immigration policy, noting that it was harmful to children, and an action alert to help families separated at the border.

The Alliance contends the standards of care for these children must be equal to that expected in our current child welfare system, which, at a minimum, should include access to a safe environment appropriate for families, age-appropriate services including education, trauma-informed mental and other health services, and family-based legal and immigration counseling. We encourage you to provide comment on the proposed Flores rule prior to the comment period ending Nov. 6.

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