Chicago – Attorney General Kwame Raoul, along with 18 attorneys general, issued a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) expressing support for its proposed Unaccompanied Children Program Foundational Rule, but also calling for amendments to provisions that would permit the placement of unaccompanied children (UACs) in unlicensed immigration detention facilities.
In the comment letter, Raoul and the coalition support several elements of the proposed rule that provide enhanced protections for unaccompanied immigrant children in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). However, Raoul and the coalition also call for amended provisions, explaining that states have a strong interest in protecting the health and safety of unaccompanied immigrant children.
“It is imperative for vulnerable immigrant children to be placed in supportive care where they can access the protections and services that will allow them to thrive in the U.S.,” Raoul said. “States have a strong interest in helping unaccompanied children adjust, become members of our communities, and grow into adults with their own families. I will continue to advocate with my fellow attorneys general for the health, safety and well-being of unaccompanied children in Illinois and across the county.”
In the letter, the attorneys general support protections, including those governing language access, improving access to counsel, guaranteeing access to reproductive health care, emphasizing the importance of community-based care, encouraging comprehensive post-release services, and requiring the implementation of positive behavior management strategies.
However, Raoul and the coalition also urge HHS to amend the proposed rule to require that all facilities housing UACs be state-licensed, including both standard programs and emergency and influx facilities. In the alternative, the states urge HHS to:
Joining Raoul in sending the letter are the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.