Judge Rejects US Plan to Detain Families Indefinitely

She rules administration can't alter Flores agreement
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 10, 2018 12:11 AM CDT
An immigrant child looks out from a US Border Patrol bus leaving as protesters block the street outside the US Border Patrol Central Processing Center in McAllen, Texas last month.   (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)
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(Newser) – A federal judge has rejected what she called President Trump's "cynical" effort to ditch an agreement limiting the amount of time children can be held in immigration detention. Dolly Gee, a Los Angeles-based US district judge, said the administration had offered "tortured" reasoning in its attempt to alter the 1997 Flores Agreement, which states that children can only be held in immigration detention for 20 days, Politico reports. The Justice Department asked the court to alter the agreement last month, when Trump issued an executive order amid an outcry over children being separated from their families after crossing the border illegally. Gee's ruling means families cannot be held in immigration detention indefinitely—unless they consent.

Gee's ruling noted that "absolutely nothing" is preventing the administration from "reinstating prosecutorial discretion" and releasing families until their next court date, the Washington Post reports. Some of the language used in the ruling was very similar to Gee's 2015 ruling that stopped the Obama administration from detaining families indefinitely. She accused the administration of cynically trying to shift responsibility for the issue to the judiciary after decades of "congressional inaction and ill-considered executive action," and noted that the minors now in government custody "are blameless. They are subject to the decisions made by adults over whom they have no control.” (The administration isn't going to meet its court-ordered Tuesday deadline of reuniting all seized kids under 5 with their parents.)

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