Published: Wed, July 11, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Federal judge rejects Trump's request to allow long-term detention of immigrant kids

Federal judge rejects Trump's request to allow long-term detention of immigrant kids

A USA federal judge on Monday rejected the Trump administration's request to allow long-term detention of illegal immigrant children, a setback for President Donald Trump's executive order to end the separation of immigrant families.

Los Angeles U.S. District Court Judge Dolly Gee dismissed as "dubious" and "unconvincing" the U.S. Justice Department's proposal to modify a 1997 settlement known as the Flores Agreement, which says that children can not be held in detention for long periods.

After the president issued an executive order, ostensibly created to stop the separations, the administration petitioned a federal court to alter the decades-old Flores agreement that prevents the government from detaining immigrant children for more than 20 days.

Gee said there was "no state licensing readily available for facilities that house both adults and children".

The government argued that the Flores agreement can not be followed as it stands because it requires the separation of families, and that families must be held until their immigration hearings take place to ensure that they show up in court.

The Justice Department did not immediately announce whether it intends to pursue an appeal - but it did voice displeasure with Gee's conclusions. That's because the move to a "zero-tolerance" immigration policy - which detained and prosecuted migrants for illegal border crossings rather than releasing them before their proceedings - would keep parents in detention longer than their children legally could be.

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"Defendants advance a tortured interpretation of the Flores Agreement in an attempt to show that the ... injunction permits them to suspend the Flores release and licensure provisions", she wrote.

Gee said the federal government had failed to present new evidence to support revising a court order that limits the detention of children who crossed the border illegally.

The decision comes on the eve of another federal judge's deadline to reunite all parents separated from their children under the age of five.

President Trump hoped to end the Obama-era "catch and release" policy, with an executive order that forced the separation of more than 2,000 kids from their parents.

"Regardless, what is certain is that the children who are the beneficiaries of the Flores Agreement's protections and who are now in Defendants' custody are blameless", she added.

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