Immigration Law

Judges rule against US in 3 immigration cases, including its bid to indefinitely detain children

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Federal judges ruled against the Trump administration Friday in three cases challenging its plans to quickly deport some immigrants and detain others, including immigrant children.

The Los Angeles Times has a story on all three decisions. Judges ruled against the administration’s plans:

• To hold children indefinitely when they are in the country illegally, pending the outcome of deportation proceedings.

• To expand fast-track deportations.

• To rely solely on databases when police are told to hold immigrants for immigration authorities.

In the case involving children, U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee issued a permanent injunction blocking a Trump administration rule that would override the so-called Flores settlement. The agreement caps the detention of immigrant children at 20 days before their release or transfer to a licensed facility. The New York Times, Courthouse News Service and Law360 have coverage.

The administration rule would have eliminated that cap as well as a requirement that family detention centers be licensed by the states. The Trump administration had planned to hold the children with their families in the unlicensed facilities while immigration cases are pending.

“The Flores agreement is a binding contract and a consent decree,” Gee wrote. “Defendants cannot simply ignore the dictates of the consent decree merely because they no longer agree with its approach as a matter of policy.”

Gee said the decree could be lifted through congressional action or through a motion requiring the administration to demonstrate a change in law or facts that makes compliance illegal, impossible or inequitable. “Having failed to obtain such relief, defendants cannot simply impose their will by promulgating regulations that abrogate the consent decree’s most basic tenets,” Gee said.

The case is Flores v. Barr.

In the fast-track deportation case, U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson issued a preliminary injunction barring the Trump administration from expanding the number of immigrants who are subject to expedited removal. The Washington Post, Politico and the Wall Street Journal have coverage.

The Obama administration had confined such removals—which don’t involve an immigration judge—to those picked up near the border who had been in the country illegally for less than two weeks. The Trump administration sought to expand expedited removals to anyone who has been in the country illegally for less than two years, in any part of the country.

Jackson said the administration tried to implement the rule without following the required notice and comment process of the Administrative Procedure Act.

“Government actors who make policy decisions in their official capacities cannot succumb to whims or passions while rule-making,” Jackson wrote. “If a policy decision that an agency makes is of sufficient consequence that it qualifies as an agency rule, then arbitrariness in deciding the contours of that rule—e.g., decision-making by Ouija board or dart board, rock/paper/scissors, or even the Magic 8 Ball—simply will not do.”

The case is Make the Road New York v. McAleenan. A press release from the American Civil Liberties Union is here.

In the third case, U.S. District Judge André Birotte Jr. issued a permanent injunction that bars U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement from requesting the detainer of arrested immigrants based only on electronic databases, according to the Los Angeles Times coverage. The decision applies to ICE detainers issued out of the Central District of California, which sends out detainer requests to police departments in 43 states, Guam and Washington, D.C.

Birotte said the databases often contained “incomplete data” and “significant errors.”

The case is Gonzalez v. ICE. An ACLU press release is here.

Related articles: “DHS decision to expand expedited removal is ‘a direct affront to due process,’ ABA president says” “ABA strongly opposes DHS request to detain families longer and deport minors without a hearing”

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