A Los Angeles federal judge last week ordered the government to “make every effort to promptly and safely release” the thousands of immigrant children in custody who have suitable guardians.
U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee found that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Office of Refugee Resettlement violated a 1997 agreement that guarantees all immigrant children the right to safe and sanitary conditions of detention. The agreement also dictates that they should be released to sponsors living in the United States.
In her ruling, Gee said delaying the release of children in facilities with known COVID-19 exposure threatened their safety. Gee added that the government violated the settlement, commonly known as the Flores agreement, by not releasing minors without unnecessary delay. She ruled that the entities refused to release minors to some relatives unless the relatives were first fingerprinted and kept the children in custody even though their legal proceedings were ongoing and therefore could not be deported.