On Monday, the Trump administration tried to persuade a federal court to allow long-term detention of migrant families. The administration lost that bid and is now experiencing a legal setback when it comes to immigration policies.
Judge Dolly M. Gee of the Federal District Court in Los Angeles said there was no basis to modify the 1997 Flores agreement and called it "a cynical attempt " to shift immigration policy-making to the courts.
The Flores Settlement imposes obligations that fall into three main categories:
- The government is required to release children from immigration detention without unnecessary delay to, in order of preference, parents, other adult relatives, or licensed programs willing to accept custody.
- If a suitable placement is not immediately available, the government is obligated to place children in the “least restrictive” setting appropriate to their age and any special needs.
- The government must implement standards relating to the care and treatment of children in immigration detention.
The government argued that long-term confinement was the only way to avoid separating families when parents were being detained.
Trump administration’s petition tried to amend the Flores agreement, both by allowing longer-term detention of families and providing for housing them in facilities other than those licensed by child welfare agencies.
Judge Gee said in her ruling that the petition to amend the agreement did not present any new significant argument that had not already been tried unsuccessfully in previous years and administrations.
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