Judge refuses Trump request to change court order on family detention

11 July, 2018, 02:46 | Author: Myra Gill
  • President Donald Trump pauses as he speaks onstage during a rally in Great Falls Montana U.S. on Thursday

A US 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.

This means that if the administration detains immigrant children and parents together for longer than 20 days, it will have to decide whether to separate them again, which Trump has said he doesn't want to do, or to release the entire family, which he also doesn't want to do.

In blunt terms, Gee variously described the Justice Department's argument as "dubious and unconvincing", "tortured", and "procedurally improper and wholly without merit".

"Parents who cross the border will not be released and must choose between remaining in family custody with their children pending immigration proceedings or requesting separation from their children so the child may be placed with a sponsor", he said.

The Department of Justice was reviewing the ruling and did not say if it would appeal.

"Even assuming defendants are correct, however, this risk was plainly contemplated by the parties when they executed the Flores agreement in 1997.It does not support a blanket non-release policy or warrant the agreement's modification".


Attorney Peter Schey, who represents detained children in the settlement, said President Donald Trump had falsely claimed the settlement required the separation of families. That deadline, set for Tuesday, had mandated that authorities return all of the youngest migrant children in federal custody to their parents.

Gee called the government's request "a cynical attempt" to shift responsibility to the court "for over 20 years of Congressional inaction and ill-considered executive action that have led to the current stalemate".

Last week John Mendez, a U.S. District Court Judge in Sacramento appointed by former President George W. Bush, struck a similar note in a ruling on a case challenging California's sanctuary law.

It remains unclear what comes next for Trump and his immigration policy, which faces some of the same hard problems that confronted his predecessor.

At any rate, Gee maintained in her ruling that those deliberations, as hard as they seem to be, are less important than the children affected by them. "In implementing the Agreement, their best interests should be paramount".

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