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May 31, 2019

Statement of ABA President Bob Carlson, Re: Improper Detention of Immigrant Children

WASHINGTON, May 31, 2019 — The American Bar Association is deeply disturbed by reports that hundreds of unaccompanied children seeking refuge in the United States are being held by the U.S. Border Patrol in violation of the law and federal policies.

According to federal law and court orders, immigrant children generally cannot be held by law enforcement for more than 72 hours before being transferred to shelters that are better equipped to care for their physical and psychological needs. Yet news reports cite recent federal data that hundreds of children, many aged 12 and younger, have been held in Border Patrol custody for an average of six days, in facilities that are intended to be short-term processing stations.

The current situation is unacceptable. Leaders at every level of the federal government, including the White House and Congress, must immediately find legal and humane alternatives that relieve the suffering of these children – and then work to create and fund comprehensive, long-term solutions.

With more than 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is one of the largest voluntary professional membership organizations in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. View our privacy statement online. Follow the latest ABA news at and on Twitter @ABANews.