On June 9, 2018, U.S. District Court Judge Dolly Gee has denied the Trump administration’s attempt to detain migrant families together indefinitely by rejecting the request to allow governments to lock up children with their parents. After passing of the zero-tolerance policy regarding illegal immigration and border crossing, the reason thousands of migrant children are separated from their parents while their parents await in immigration jails, is due to the Flores Settlement, a longstanding court settlement that requires the government to release children from immigration detention without “unnecessary delay”. It was also Judge Gee who, in 2015, ruled that the Flores Settlement applied with both unaccompanied children and children with their parents. She ruled that, even while with their parents, migrant children should not be detained for more than 20 days. It should be noted that Judge Gee’s 2015 decision came at a time when President Obama was in office.
The Trump administration wanted to Judge Gee to modify the agreement and her decision to allow governments to hold children with their parents in jails and in Immigration and Customs Enforcement residential facilities indefinitely. Judge Gee denied the effort, calling it a “cynical attempt” to undo the longstanding court settlement. However, Judge Gee also wrote that the parents of migrant children arriving at the border may also affirmatively waive their children’s right to prompt release and placement in state-licensed facilities. It is unclear at this time how this will change the conditions the thousands of children who are already separated from their parents or what will happen to the children arriving into the country illegally with their parents in the future. To learn more about the current asylum program, please click here. To learn more about other forms of humanitarian relief, please click here.
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