Los Angeles’ mayor and city attorney joined other officials across the country Tuesday in a court filing opposing President Donald Trump’s efforts to order long-term detention of migrant children and eliminate child-welfare oversight being provided by state licensing agencies.
The brief, filed in Los Angeles federal court, supports the plaintiffs — all of whom are migrant children — in the case of Flores v. Sessions.
“We’ve seen the horror and indignation of millions of Americans as the Trump Administration wrests thousands of immigrant children from their parents,” City Attorney Mike Feuer said. “I’m proud to stand with cities across our nation, yet again, in fighting back against this administration’s outrageous tactics and standing up for families.”
In June, the U.S. Department of Justice filed an emergency request with a Los Angeles federal judge asking that she revise a 1997 ruling so the Trump administration can execute a new policy for detaining immigrant families at the border.
The motion, filed with U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee in downtown Los Angeles, seeks to alter parts of an agreement from a 1985 case that bans the detention of children for more than 20 days and prohibits children from being held in daycare facilities not licensed by the state.
The motion was filed a day after President Donald Trump signed an executive order that he said would halt the separation of children from undocumented adults entering the country under his “zero tolerance” policy. Critics have contended that despite the order, the government has no plan for reuniting thousands of detained children with their parents.
The issue stems from a consent decree and other rulings in Flores case that require the release of detained children within 20 days. But illegal entry cases against adults usually take far more than 20 days to litigate, so the government wants approval to allow kids to stay with their detained parents during the legal process.
In its motion, government lawyers wrote that previous decisions helped precipitate “a destabilizing migratory crisis: tens of thousands of families are embarking on the dangerous journey to the United States, often through smuggling arrangements, and then crossing the border illegally in violation of our federal criminal law.”
Gee has scheduled a July 27 hearing in the matter.
“Whether in the streets or the courts, we are going to do everything we can to end the Trump Administration’s use of children as pawns in their political games,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement. “State-sanctioned family separation belongs in the dustbin of history.”
Garcetti and Feuer, together with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, and San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera, signed the amicus brief asserting that forced family separation was a creation of the federal government and not should serve as a basis for relieving the Trump administration from complying with the child-welfare provisions in the Flores settlement.
The cities’ opposition comes a week after a San Diego-based federal judge ordered a halt to the practice of separating children from their parents who entered the United States without legal permission.
Trump, who campaigned for the presidency in part on a vow to crack down on illegal immigration, has continued to support his zero-tolerance policy for people crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.
“When people come into our Country illegally, we must IMMEDIATELY escort them back out without going through years of legal maneuvering,” he wrote on his Twitter page Saturday. “Our laws are the dumbest anywhere in the world. Republicans want Strong Borders and no Crime. Dems want Open Borders and are weak on Crime!”