American Bar Association condemns conditions at migrant child detention centers as a violation of law, 'common decency'

American Bar Association condemns conditions at migrant child detention centers as a violation of law, 'common decency'
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The American Bar Association (ABA) condemned conditions at detention centers holding immigrant children, calling them violation of law and "common decency."

"The American Bar Association is appalled by credible reports of hundreds of children being held in unsafe and unhealthy conditions in violation of federal and state law, court settlements and common decency," ABA president Bob Carlson said in a statement issued Tuesday. 

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The statement highlights reports alleging children and infants were held for up to two weeks at a time in "overcrowded facilities that lack the most basic of human necessities." 

Carlson said that directly violates the law, which requires children must be released to Health and Human Services within 72 hours. 

"The ABA calls on federal authorities to immediately end this inhumane and illegal treatment of children and provide attorney access to facilities operated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection," Carlson said. 

A Justice Department lawyer suggested during a recent hearing that a toothbrush and soap were not needed to maintain safe and sanitary conditions at facilities holding migrant children. 

Carlson said those conditions violate the 1997 Flores Settlement agreement, which also restricts time children can be held in immigration detention centers. 

"We urge Congress to pass supplemental appropriations to ensure the appropriate treatment and care of unaccompanied immigrant children in government custody," Carlson said. "And we call on the administration to enforce laws and settlements that guarantee humane, minimal standards of care for vulnerable children, no matter how they arrived in our country."

Backlash to the migrant centers has been amplified since reports of the unsanitary conditions. The acting head of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), John Sanders, announced plans to step down amid the uproar, an agency official confirmed to The Hill on Tuesday.