Commentary by Francois Crépeau: “When we know the psychological and physical damage that detention causes to children, the position of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child – that administrative detention can never ever be in the best interest of any child and that an alternative to detention must always be found, which is exactly what the 1997 Flores agreement does – is the only position that makes sense. Thank God that judges still have common sense and resist the Administration push for longer detention for children. Nationalist populist politicians want to subdue independent “unelected judges” to avoid such a result.”
LOS ANGELES — The Trump administration on Monday lost a bid to persuade a federal court to allow long-term detention of migrant families, a significant legal setback to the president’s immigration agenda.
In a ruling that countered nearly every argument posed by the Justice Department, Judge Dolly M. Gee of the Federal District Court in Los Angeles held that there was no basis to amend a longstanding consent decree that requires children to be released to licensed care programs within 20 days. The government said that long-term confinement was the only way to avoid separating families when parents were detained on criminal charges.
Judge Gee said the administration’s request to modify the decree, the 1997 Flores agreement, was “a cynical attempt” to shift immigration policymaking to the courts in the wake of “over 20 years of congressional inaction and ill-considered executive action that have led to the current stalemate.”
In another setback, federal authorities were preparing Monday to unwind the administration’s family separation program, with 54 young migrants scheduled to be returned to their parents as a result of an earlier court ruling from a federal judge in San Diego. The secretive operation set to unfold on Tuesday involves transporting children hundreds of miles to undisclosed locations around the country.
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