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July 30, 2018


A fiscal year 2019 funding bill approved July 11 by the House Appropriations Committee includes language addressing the separation of families at the southern U.S. border that resulted from the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy. An amendment added to the bill during markup would overturn the settlement in the 1997 Flores v. Reno case, which sets out the proper treatment of undocumented children in detention and prohibits the government from keeping children in detention for more than 20 days. Under the amendment, children would be allowed to stay with their parents in detention indefinitely. The bill – which would fund the Departments of Labor, and Health and Human Services (HHS) – also would require the government to: make public a formal plan for reuniting children and parents who were recently separated at the border as a result of the “zero tolerance” policy; require HHS to provide regular reports to Congress about the children in their care; allow HHS to accept donations of various supplies for the children in detention; keep siblings together; and prohibit the administering of medication to the children without proper evaluation. ABA President Hilarie Bass, who made a trip to the border June 26, called on the government to “expeditiously and efficiently reunite families and minimize any further harm to the children.” The ABA president is coordinating an ABA response to the crisis that includes recruiting lawyer volunteers and launching a fundraising effort for ProBAR, which is a joint pro bono legal services project of the ABA, the State Bar of Texas, and the American Immigration Lawyers Association with support from the Texas Access to Justice Foundation.

Back to July 2018 Washington Letter