Texas Sets Dangerous Precedent by Upholding Indefinite Detention of Migrant Children

Even before the uproar over the Trump administration’s policy of family separation  — and the resulting moratorium on the practice — facilities holding these families on behalf of ICE have faced legal challenges over their ability to detain children indefinitely.

As it stands presently, migrant children cannot be detained for more than 20 days in non-governmental facilities, a policy known as the Flores agreement. After that, they must be released — sometimes wearing ankle monitors and given orders to appear in court at a later date. Two facilities in Karnes and Dilley, Texas — both of which are operated by private contractors — have found a way around this restriction, however.

Thanks to a Texas court ruling, a challenge to which was recently shot down, the state government can continue to dispense special exemptions for the Flores agreement. The first facilities to receive this status were those in Karnes and Dilley.

Lawyers and immigrant rights advocates have described these facilities as being little more than detention centers designed to warehouse migrant children and their families. These critics argue that migrants held there have insufficient access to education and medical services in addition to facing unsanitary conditions.

Such a reality was underscored when a toddler from Guatemala, Mariee Juarez, developed a respiratory infection while being held in Dilley. A few weeks after being released, she died from her illness.

Other families who have been held in Karnes and Dilley report their children becoming sick, lethargic and depressed. In one case, a 13-year-old boy named Juan almost entirely stopped eating and began complaining of headaches. According to his mother, staff only provided them with Tylenol pills.

One of the key requirements for the special licensing given to the facilities in Karnes and Dilley is that they be “nonsecure,” meaning that they do not physically restrict those staying there from moving freely or attempting to leave. So far, both ICE and spokespeople for the facilities have declined to confirm their policy.

The Trump administration has long been seeking a way to get around or nullify the Flores agreement in order to hold migrant children and their families indefinitely. Unfortunately, it appears as though Texas’ upholding of its own loophole may be precisely the opening the federal government has been looking for.

In other terms, Texas could soon become the destination for detained migrant families that the Trump administration wants to hold without limit. After all, increased ICE arrests and border detentions over the past two years have inevitably created an increasingly overburdened migrant processing system.

Take Action!

Tell the Texas 3rd Court of Appeals in Austin to rescind its ruling, which upholds the state’s ability to hold migrant children indefinitely! This is not only patently immoral and needlessly cruel to these children and their families, but it is also a flagrant violation of due process rights per the U.S. Constitution — rights that are due all individuals on American soil, regardless of legal status.

Like the policy of migrant family separation, our voices can and will be heard in order to achieve justice; please add your name to this Care2 petition!

Concerned about an issue? Want to raise awareness about an injustice? Join your fellow Care2 users by learning how to make your own petition and make your voice heard today!


Photo Credit: Daniel Arauz/Flickr


Vincent T
Vincent T2 months ago

thank you for sharing

Richard B
Past Member 2 months ago

that's dreadful

Frances G
Frances G2 months ago


Joan E
Joan E2 months ago

This is terrible.

Chad Anderson
Chad Anderson2 months ago

Thank you.

Joan E
Joan E2 months ago

Stop the cruelty.

Brian F
Brian F2 months ago

PJ C No one is blaming our 22 trillion dollar debt on the immigrants. It was caused by the horrible Republican GW Bush, and the Democrats who voted with the Republicans to invade Iraq based on lies. However the fact is that we have it, a crumbling infrastructure, a massive homeless population, and massive wealth inequality, with most wealth going to the 1%. So the USA cannot continue to take in more immigrants when it can't even find enough jobs or housing for it's people.

Shirley P
Shirley Plowman2 months ago


PJ C2 months ago

So first they set up "detention centres", then they start numbering people's arms with sharpies, then they make incarceration indefinite, huh, so I guess next they will start tattooing the numbers on so they last indefinitely. Two years with one pathetic, evil, madman led administration and the USA goes straight to this? PS -person who mentioned the debt, check out what portion of that is from wars because the immigrants et al aren't what made the debt all it is now...and now...oh, look, up again.

Rhoberta E
Rhoberta E2 months ago

brian f
Get real brian !!
The US touts itself as being the greatest nation on earth AND the MOST prosperous.
Your current administration is dragging it's citizens down to a level that puts a false claim to that..
Compassion comes from HUMANS ! I don't buy your sad, pathetic story when trump's buddies are profiting FROM these "detention camps". When you put a dollar sign on human suffering, you are certainly part of the problem.
You sit back and worry about how much politicians make, or whether or not YOU can access marijuana, or which news outlets YOU disagree with. or whining about the 2016 election.
You are a very sad specimen of the former US philosophy of inclusion of "others"