Immigration Law

Federal judge orders intervention in Texas detention centers holding immigrant children

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After lawyers’ reports on conditions at a Texas detention center prompted a national outcry in June, a federal judge has ordered an independent monitor to improve health and sanitation at facilities holding unaccompanied immigrant children.

In her order Friday, District Judge Dolly M. Gee of the Central District of California also requested that the government report improvements in U.S. Customs and Border Protection facilities in the El Paso and Rio Grande Valley areas of Texas by July 12, the New York Times reports. CNN also has coverage.

Holly Cooper, one of the lawyers who reported that immigrant children were living in dirty clothes and diapers and unable to bathe or access basic necessities, told the New York Times that “we are hoping we can act expeditiously to resolve the conditions for children in Border Patrol custody.”

She and her team of lawyers told the court that the federal government had violated the 1997 Flores settlement agreement, which requires that immigrant children be kept in “safe and sanitary” facilities.

In her order, Gee referred the issue to the monitor, whom she appointed last year, for the “prompt remediation” of conditions, including retention of an independent public health expert. The judge also said the court previously had detailed the government’s violations of the Flores agreement.

“The court has already issued several orders that have set forth in detail what it considers to be violations of the Flores agreement,” Gee said in her ruling. “Thus, the parties need not use divining tools to extrapolate from those orders what does or does not constitute noncompliance. The court has made that clear.”

See also:

ABA Journal: “Inhumane treatment of immigrant children violates ‘law, court settlements and common decency,’ ABA says”

ABA Journal: “Union for asylum officers files brief opposing remain-in-Mexico policy”

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