Thursday, June 29, 2017
An agreement entered years ago in Flores v. Reno involving the detention of noncitizen minors continues to be a subject of litigation.
In an order issued regarding the plaintiffs' motion to enforce and appoint a special monitor, Judge Dolly Gee concluded that children continue to be held longer than 20 days in secure, unlicensed facilities in defiance of the Flores settlement and the judge's previous orders, as well as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruling last year. The court determined that almost all Rio Grande Valley sector facilities in which children and adults were kept had unsafe and unsanitary conditions, with inadequate food, inadequate access to clean drinking water, inadequate hygiene, cold temperatures and inadequate sleeping conditions. Further the court concluded the government has failed to: make repeated efforts to release children, ensure that children are not kept in secure, non-licensed facilities (like the facility in Dilley, Texas), and release children within the court's 20-day limit. As such, the judge ordered the appointment of a Juvenile Coordinator within 30 days. For more information, read the American Immigration Lawyers Association statement.
The American Immigration Council released the following statement about the latest developments in the Flores case:
Last night, U.S. District Court Judge Dolly M. Gee condemned the federal government for continuing to disregard critical protections for children in detention.
Since the summer of 2014, the government has detained thousands of mothers and children fleeing violence in Central America. Although the longstanding Flores settlement guarantees minimum standards for the detention, release, and treatment of children in immigration detention, the government has failed to comply with the settlement.
Two years ago, a civil rights organization, on behalf of immigrant children, brought suit to enforce the Flores settlement. In July and August of 2015, Judge Gee said the government must apply the settlement to all minors, including those detained with family members. However, the government still refuses to comply with the settlement and holds children for far too long, in substandard conditions, and in non-licensed facilities.
Judge Gee’s most recent order makes clear that the government is not honoring its obligations and must be held accountable. She directs the government to identify a Juvenile Coordinator within 30 days to report to the court on the government’s compliance with the Flores settlement.
To learn more, view today’s post on Judge Gee's decision on ImmigrationImpact.com.
It remains to be seen how the government will respond and whether it will honor its commitments under the Flores settlement, but the order is a long-sought victory for the fair treatment of some of the most vulnerable among us, and we will continue to fight on their behalf. Thank you for continuing to stand with us.