Federal Judge Rejects Trump Administration’s Bid to Alter Rules on Detaining Minors

Federal judge rejects Trump admin bid to alter rules on detaining minors

Federal Judge Rejects Trump Administration’s Bid to Alter Rules on Detaining Minors
Federal Judge Rejects Trump Administration’s Bid to Alter Rules on Detaining Minors

A federal judge in California on Monday flatly rejected the Justice Department’s attempt to modify a decades-old settlement agreement that limits the length of time and conditions under which US officials may detain immigrant children.

The Justice Department had asked US District Judge Dolly Gee to modify what’s known as the Flores settlement to give the Trump administration maximum flexibility to detain families not only until their criminal proceedings conclude, but also through the end of any asylum proceedings, which could drag on for many months.

In a strongly worded order, Gee added that there was no basis for the change, calling it “Procedurally improper and wholly without merit.”

“It is apparent that Defendants’ Application is a cynical attempt, on an ex parte basis, to shift responsibility to the Judiciary for over 20 years of Congressional inaction and ill-considered Executive action that have led to the current stalemate. The parties voluntarily agreed to the terms of the Flores Agreement more than two decades ago. The Court did not force the parties into the agreement nor did it draft the contractual language. Its role is merely to interpret and enforce the clear and unambiguous language to which the parties agreed, applying well-established principles of law.”

“Regardless, what is certain is that 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,” Gee wrote.

Gee said that “Absolutely nothing prevents Defendants from reconsidering their current blanket policy of family detention and reinstating prosecutorial discretion.”

CNN has reached out to the Justice Department for comment.


Federal judge rejects Trump admin bid to alter rules on detaining minors

Federal judge rejects Trump admin bid to alter rules on detaining minors

In a strongly worded order, US District Court Judge Dolly Gee called the Justice Department’s request “Wholly without merit” and found “Absolutely nothing prevents from reconsidering their current blanket policy of family detention and reinstating prosecutorial discretion.”

Last month, the Justice Department sought to modify an agreement in Flores v. Reno, saying they were bound by a prohibition that restricted the detention of immigrant children to 20 days.

Department lawyers wanted Gee, who signed the operative decision in the case, to modify that rule to give the Trump administration maximum flexibility in handling family units, because officials want to detain the parents not only until the end of any criminal proceedings but also through the end of any asylum proceedings, which could drag on for months.

The judge was unmoved, calling the Trump administration’s position a false choice and tantamount to seeking to “Light a match to the Flores Agreement and ask this Court to upend the parties’ agreement by judicial fiat.”

Gee was not persuaded that the two court orders were in conflict, calling the Justice Department’s position “Tortured,” and noting that both sides agreed that parents may waive their children’s rights to prompt release and some parents may consent to have their child detained with them.

“Regardless, what is certain is that the children who are the beneficiaries of the Flores Agreement’s protections and who are now in Defendants’ custody are blameless.”

CNN has reached out to the Justice Department for comment.

A Judge Won't Change A Settlement That Restricts How Long The Trump Administration Can Hold Kids In Immigration Detention

A Judge Won’t Change A Settlement That Restricts How Long The Trump Administration Can Hold Kids In Immigration Detention

A federal judge on Monday rejected the Trump administration’s bid to change the terms of a 1997 settlement agreement that restricts how long children can be held in immigration detention, undercutting a major part of Trump’s executive order addressing the border separations crisis.

US District Judge Dolly Gee wrote that the Justice Department’s motion to modify the settlement, known as the Flores agreement, was a “Thinly veiled” effort to raise challenges to the settlement that the judge had already considered and denied.

The government has interpreted the settlement and subsequent rulings in the case to mean that children cannot be held in immigration detention for more than 20 days.

The children were then classified as unaccompanied minors and placed under the care of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the agency within the Department of Health and Human Services responsible for managing children in immigration detention.

The Flores agreement requires the government to place migrant children taken into custody at the border in a non-secure, licensed facility, ruling out long-term detention.

The administration now sought “To light a match to the Flores Agreement and ask.this Court to upend the parties’ agreement by judicial fiat,” Gee wrote.

The injunction placed the Trump administration in a bind – if it wanted to hold migrants with pending immigration cases, it would have to detain children with their parents in order to comply with the San Diego order.

Ball in federal judge's court in key immigration case on family separations

Ball in federal judge’s court in key immigration case on family separations

The plaintiffs are parties to a settlement agreement in the Supreme Court case Reno v. Flores, which provides certain restrictions on federal officials’ ability to detain migrant children, including their release after 20 days.

The Flores agreement has become a crucible for the Trump administration as it seeks to deal with the fallout over family separations at the US border.

The administration wants to hold the parents for the entire duration of their immigration proceedings – which could last just days or many months.

As a result, last week the Justice Department asked US District Court Dolly Gee in California to modify the Flores settlement in order to be able to hold children with their parents, which may go well beyond 20 days in certain asylum cases.

The lawyers pointed to similar arguments made under the Obama administration about the “Influx” of migrants crossing the border that Gee rejected, and argued there’s nothing in Flores that requires the administration to separate families as the only alternative.

While the plaintiffs suggest the administration can simply release the family units together into the interior of the United States, the Trump administration has repeatedly denounced “Catch and release” because officials believe immigrants often do not show up to future court dates.

US District Court Judge Dana Sabraw ordered the administration to stop separating families, absent certain narrow circumstances, and the Justice Department told Gee on Friday night that it plans to follow that directive.

#Gee, #UnitedStatesDepartmentOfJustice, #Flores, #PresidencyOfDonaldTrump, #California, #RightOfAsylum, #Drag, #Force, #Prosecutor, #CNN, #CNN

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Federal Judge Rejects Trump Administration’s Bid to Alter Rules on Detaining Minors
Federal judge rejects Trump admin bid to alter rules on detaining minors
A Judge Won’t Change A Settlement That Restricts How Long The Trump Administration Can Hold Kids In Immigration Detention
Ball in federal judge’s court in key immigration case on family separations

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