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Senator Hassan Presses ICE, Customs and Border Protection Officials on Agencies’ Effort to Lift Restrictions on Detaining Children Indefinitely

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To watch Senator Hassan’s questioning, click here.

WASHINGTON – Senator Maggie Hassan today pressed immigration officials on the Trump Administration’s efforts to lift restrictions on detaining children indefinitely during a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. The Senator questioned Executive Associate Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Matthew Albence and Acting Deputy Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection Robert Perez on their agencies’ support for lifting restrictions imposed by the Flores settlement, which currently places restrictions on detaining children for more than 20 days. 

“What this hearing comes down to for me is whether the federal government should be keeping children in detention indefinitely while waiting for a judge to review their case,” Senator Hassan said. “We are talking about the indefinite detention of children. That’s frankly not who we are as a country, and it’s not what the United States should become. Senator Peters referenced The American Academy of Pediatrics. It strongly opposes the long term detention of children. A March 2017 report from the Academy notes that such detention, and this is a quote, ‘can cause psychological trauma and induce long term mental health risks for children’ close quote. The report goes onto say that detaining children can lead to physical and emotional symptoms such as post-traumatic stress disorder, suicidal ideation, behavioral problems, and difficulty functioning in school.”

When asked whether they were aware of this report from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Mr. Albence said he had seen media reports of that report and Mr. Perez said he was not aware of it at all. The Senator then offered to send them copies of that report to their offices so they could study how indefinite detention harms children. 

Senator Hassan concluded her questioning by saying, "I won't support this committee moving forward with the legislation that allows the federal government to indefinitely detain children... it is absolutely unacceptable to detain children and to have the United States of America, the strongest, best country in the world, treat children this way because we don't want to do other things that are more difficult. That is not who we are. We are stronger than that. We are better than that. And we are far more capable than that."

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