Brennan Center to HHS: Don’t Use Kids as “Bait” to Deport Families

The Brennan Center, along with thirteen other partner civil rights and privacy advocacy organizations, submitted comments to HHS and DHS on November 6, 2018, opposing a proposed rule change that would codify the practice of using personal data provided by potential sponsors for unaccompanied children to drive deportation efforts.

November 7, 2018

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently released a Proposed Rule to change the process requirements for the release of unaccompanied children from HHS custody to sponsors. On November 6, 2018, the Brennan Center joined thirteen other partner organizations in submitting comments that oppose this rule change.

The Trump Administration has had a de facto policy since 2017 of using information collected on families seeking to sponsor unaccompanied children to target family members for deportation. The rule change proposed by HHS would codify this deeply misguided and harmful policy. Modifying the procedures in this way delays the release of children in HHS custody, as families are forced to struggle through longer and more complex procedures to secure their release, and the fear of ICE targeting scares away potential sponsors.

Under the expanded sponsor assessment procedure implemented in 2017, the detention duration for immigrant children has doubled, from an average of 34 days in January 2016 to an average of 74 days as of October 2018. These delays are wholly unnecessary, as the prior existing sponsor suitability assessments have routinely been judged sufficiently robust by civil society and government oversight organizations concerned with the care of immigrant children. These practices merely prolong expensive federal detention of kids without any added safety benefit.

Kids should not be used as “bait.” There is no legal or moral justification for codifying this expensive, inhumane, and unnecessary policy. Instead, HHS should cease providing potential sponsors’ information to the Department of Homeland Security to determine immigration status, and strictly limit the purposes for which information collected during suitability assessments can be used.

See the comments below:

November 6, 2018 Comments to HHS and DHS by The Brennan Center for Justice on Scribd