Nessel joins multistate effort highlighting critical importance of state licensing protections for facilities serving unaccompanied immigrant children

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel joined a coalition of 18 attorneys general in a comment letter urging the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) to preserve state licensing protections for facilities that serve unaccompanied immigrant children in any future rulemaking. 

The letter, in response to the federal government’s request for information, highlights the states’ longstanding experience caring for the wellbeing of children and the importance of retaining state licensing schemes that safeguard the health and safety of children, as well as immigrant communities.

“These federal facilities have failed to safeguard the health, safety, and well-being of these children,” Nessel said. “Children deserve protection, regardless of where they come from. I am urging the ORR to preserve state licensing protections for these facilities so that states may continue to provide adequate care for immigrant children.” 

In the letter, the coalition notes that ensuring child welfare, including establishing and enforcing standards of care for licensing of residential placements for children, is a police power vested in the states. States, accordingly, have a long history, stretching back to the nineteenth century, of enacting child welfare laws that guide the care and protection of minor children who cannot remain safely at home. 

These comprehensive standards and licensing procedures ensure that residential placements for children provide the care and services necessary to support children’s healthy development in settings that further the best interests of the child. For example, the coalition states follow a policy of placing children in the least restrictive setting to meet their particular needs and have developed comprehensive standards to protect the personal rights, health, and safety of children in residential facilities.