National Center for Youth Law


Separating children from their families is horrific. What’s happening to children once they’re separated and in federal custody is equally as awful.

In 1985, the National Center for Youth Law (NCYL) and the Center for Human Rights & Constitutional Law (CHRCL) filed Flores. The case, which went up to the U.S. Supreme Court, establishes national standards for the treatment of children in federal detention facilities and standards for when children must be released from custody.

The National Center for Youth Law (NCYL) currently represents the class of over 10,000 immigrant children in federal custody, including children separated from their families. Over the past 18 months, NCYL attorneys have made frequent and ongoing visits to detention facilities in New York, Virginia, Texas, and California, visiting with and documenting the experiences of countless detained children. The situation is sickening.

  • Children are being warehoused in facilities not fit for human beings.
  • Children are being moved from location to location in the middle of the night, not being told where they are going or being told that they are going to a better facility, only to end up in a different detention cell with no due process or explanation.
  • Children are being forced to take powerful psychotropic medications against their will, medications with serious and permanent impacts on their long-term health.
  • Most recently, we’ve learned that children are not allowed to communicate with their parents or families for months on end, causing irreparable and unconscionably harm.

All of these violate the rights of children under the Constitution and / or Flores. Indefinitely detaining children and families in detention centers is unconstitutional. The National Center for Youth Law is fighting to defend the rights of immigrant children separated from their families, and all immigrant children in federal custody, from a coordinated attack by the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice.


Protecting the due process rights of children in federal immigration custody.

August 31, 2017
Since 2014 more than 160,000 unaccompanied children have arrived in the United States.  In 2016, almost 60,000 unaccompanied immigrant children were apprehended. These children have always faced grave danger in the United States. Under the Trump Administration, the threats to their civil rights, safety and…

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