Court Orders Refugee Children and Mothers to be Released

In a major victory for human rights, a federal court in California has ruled that the Obama administration must release thousands of women and children captured last year after fleeing violence and poverty in Mexico and Central America and strongly criticized the administration’s treatment of those detained.

A federal judge in California has ruled that the Obama administration’s detention of children and their mothers who were caught crossing the border illegally is a serious violation of a longstanding court settlement, and that the families should be released as quickly as possible.

In a decision late Friday roundly rejecting the administration’s arguments for holding the families, Judge Dolly M. Gee of Federal District Court for the Central District of California found that two detention centers in Texas that the administration opened last summer fail to meet minimum legal requirements of the 1997 settlement for facilities housing children.

Judge Gee also found that migrant children had been held in “widespread deplorable conditions” in Border Patrol stations after they were first caught, and she said the authorities had “wholly failed” to provide the “safe and sanitary” conditions required for children even in temporary cells.

The opinion was a significant legal blow to detention policies ordered by Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson in response to an influx of children and parents, mostly from Central America, across the border in South Texas last summer. In her 25-page ruling, Judge Gee gave a withering critique of the administration’s positions, declaring them “unpersuasive” and “dubious” and saying officials had ignored “unambiguous” terms of the settlement.

For all the talk from the right about how Obama is allowing immigrants to stream into the country, the reality is quite the opposite. Deportations are up significantly under Obama, the number of people coming in to the country has declined greatly (that’s due primarily to the recession, not to any policy or action by the administration), and their treatment of the 90,000 or so women and children who came in over the last couple years has been appalling.

“I think this spells the beginning of the end for the Obama administration’s immigrant family detention policy,” Mr. Schey, the president of the human rights center, said Friday. “A policy that just targets mothers with children is not rational and it’s inhumane.”…

Initially, Homeland Security officials said they were detaining the families to send a message to others in Central America to deter them from coming to the United States illegally. In February, a federal court in Washington, D.C., ruled that strategy unconstitutional. Officials stopped invoking deterrence as a factor in deciding whether to release mothers and children as they seek asylum in the United States.

But many women and children remained stalled behind bleak walls and fences month after month with no end in sight. Mothers became severely depressed or anxious, and their distress echoed in their children, who became worried and sickly.

Under the Flores settlement, officials were required to try first to release a child to a parent, legal guardian or close relative. Judge Gee concluded that if the mother was also detained, Homeland Security officials should release her with the child, as long as she did not present a flight or security risk. She gave the administration one week to devise a plan to release children and mothers “without unnecessary delay.”

And I hope they follow it rather than appeal the ruling. This inhumane treatment of people who came here only seeking a life free from violence and oppression is a clear violation of their human rights and those principles we love to declare loudly but often care little about actually putting into practice.

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  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    But many women and children remained stalled behind bleak walls and fences month after month with no end in sight. Mothers became severely depressed or anxious, and their distress echoed in their children, who became worried and sickly.

    Sure, that sounds bad, but you have to remember how much more dangerous they’d be if they were still in raping shape.*

     

    * Trump/Trump 2016!

  • D. C. Sessions

    So what is the judge getting out of this deal that allows the Hussain Obama regime to turn tens of thousands of terrorists loose to attack Americans?

  • colnago80

    Re Modus @ #1

    Apparently, Modus is unaware of the fact that Ivana Trump has denied the story in Slate.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    colnago80, she’s denying that Trump is running with himself in 2016, or that while jailed these eye-llegals were in a held in a weakened, non-raping state?

  • Pierce R. Butler

    … Judge Dolly M. Gee of Federal District Court for the Central District of California found that two detention centers in Texas …

    Where does a judge in California get off claiming say-so over hoosegows in Texas, or anywhere else in Real America®?

  • blf

    Where does a judge in California get off claiming say-so over hoosegows in Texas, or anywhere else in Real America®?

    The local sheriff must have been drunk that day. (Again.)

    Or in the pay of the invading hordes of Teh Gay moolsin Ebola-infected commie athesits.

  • Synfandel

    colnago80 @3 wrote:

    Apparently, Modus is unaware of the fact that Ivana Trump has denied the story in Slate.

    Apparently, colnagogruber is unaware that Donald Trump accused undocumented Mexican immigrants of being rapists.

  • eric

    Judge Gee concluded that if the mother was also detained, Homeland Security officials should release her with the child, as long as she did not present a flight or security risk.

    Given that most of them have no doubts they will eventually be deported, its a foregone conclusion that these folks are flight risks. Release is going to lead to them disappearing into the general population and not showing up for future court dates. The policy and legal question we must consider is whether detention of children and mothers who pose no criminal or violent threat is justified even knowing they will flee the law if not detained. With current facilities being as crappy as they are, the court’s answer appears to be “no.”

    Part of the problem is that while we allow asylum seekers to live in the US while their cases are being resolved, we don’t let them get jobs for the first 5 months they’re here. This practically guarantees that poor people can’t use the legal route to asylum and are going to flee in the time between being caught and their court hearing. I suspect if these folks could legally work while they were seeking asylum, many more would seek to go through the system rather than trying to go around it.

  • sigurd jorsalfar

    eric, since “flight risk” is generally interrupted as risk of fleeing the country, these women likely pose a very low flight risk. They aren’t likely to flee to Mexico any time soon. But if they did, the case against them would be moot.