World US judge rules migrant families can’t be held long-term

US judge rules migrant families can’t be held long-term

Image result for U.S. District Court Judge Dolly Gee
U.S. District Court Judge Dolly Gee

A federal judge in Los Angeles, California dealt President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration agenda a major blow Monday, ruling the administration cannot detain immigrant families long-term. 

The administration had sought to have a judge amend a 1997 court agreement that restricted the amount of time a child can be held in detention to 20 days. 

But U.S. District Court Judge Dolly Gee said in her ruling that the administration’s reasoning is “tortured” and a “cynical attempt” to shift immigration enforcement duties to the judiciary.

“Defendants seek to light a match to the Flores Agreement and ask this Court to upend the parties’ agreement by judicial fiat,” Gee wrote, referring to the 1997 agreement.

“The children who are the beneficiaries of the Flores Agreement’s protections and who are now in Defendants’ custody are blameless. They are subject to the decisions made by adults over whom they have no control. In implementing the Agreement, their best interests should be paramount,” she added.

Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy refers all apprehended undocumented adults for criminal prosecution — a break with past administrations who limited criminal referral for most adults who illegally cross into the U.S. with their juvenile family members.

A nationwide uproar forced Trump to change course on his decision to separate children from their parents during legal proceedings, bringing the administration to try its hand at getting the courts to amend the Flores consent decree in order to keep undocumented parents and their children in custody. 

Many parents are now in custody thousands of miles from their children, whom they have not been able to see and have rarely spoken to for at least a month.

The administration is scrambling to reunite children under the age of five with the parents it separated them from ahead of a Tuesday deadline. Authorities are set to reunite just over half — 54 — of the 102 children under five by the deadline. 

Judge Dana Sabraw, who is presiding over the case, set a hearing for Tuesday morning for the administration to explain why it cannot reunite the remainder by the deadline.

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