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Hawaii attorney general joins 19 other states seeking safer conditions for child detainees

Hawaii Attorney General Clare E. Connors has joined a coalition of attorneys general filing an amicus brief defending the human rights of children held in civil immigration detention in the United States.

The brief, filed Tuesday with the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, calls for immediate intervention and relief for immigrant children being held under inhumane conditions near the U.S. border.

“Our federal government must be held accountable when it fails to meet minimum standards for the care of immigrant children,” said Connors in a news release. “The demonstrated disregard for the rights of children runs directly counter to the principles and values of Hawaii.”

For more than two decades under the Flores Settlement Agreement, the brief said, the federal government has been required to meet minimum standards for the facilities in which children who are immigrants may be confined.

The standards require, among other things, that the federal government place children in border facilities that are safe and sanitary and make every effort to release or otherwise promptly transfer children to state-licensed facilities.

They must also provide children with access to toilets and sinks, drinking water and food, medical assistance, and adequate supervision.

However, under the Trump Administration, the brief said U.S. Customs and Border Protection has held immigrant children for weeks in extremely cold facilities, without access to basic necessities like adequate food, drinking water, soap, showers, toothbrushes, clean clothing and a place to sleep.

In addition, CBP irresponsibly tasks children with the care of toddlers and infants.

The federal government “is clearly failing to meet its legal obligations,” the brief said, and the harm caused to these children will have long-lasting effects well beyond their release from border facilities.

The filing of the amicus brief is led by the attorneys general California and Massachusetts. Joining them and Connors are the attorneys general of Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

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