The Los Angeles federal judge overseeing a 1997 court settlement governing the care of migrant children in detention determined Friday that the government is failing to promptly release minors from custodial facilities and is violating coronavirus protection guidelines.
In a written order, U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement continues to show lack of compliance with part of the Flores Settlement Agreement that requires the government to “make and record the prompt and continuous efforts on its part towards family reunification” and the release of detained minors.
“The information submitted by ICE continues to show cursory explanations for denying minors release under the FSA,” the judge wrote.
A message seeking comment from ICE was not immediately answered.
Gee presides over the agreement providing standards of care for children in immigration detention.
The judge also expressed concern that ICE appears to be departing from COVID-19 guidelines for protection from the coronavirus at family detention centers. Gee wrote that minors with pre-existing medical conditions at such facilities are housed in “unsafe and crowded” circumstances in the midst of the pandemic.
Gee ordered juvenile coordinators to provide by June 8 specific explanations for the continued detention of each of about 300 children held with their families at three ICE family detention centers beyond the Flores agreement-mandated 20 days.