Judge Stands Up for Refugee Families, Castigates Government for Policies That Traumatize Children
Washington, DC – The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the American Immigration Council (Council) welcomed a ruling by U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee that should signal the end of the mass incarceration of children and mothers seeking asylum in the U.S.
“After months of negotiations between the plaintiffs and the government stalled, Judge Gee again evaluated whether the government was meeting the terms of the original Flores settlement and ensuring the proper care of children in its custody. The final word on that is no, it most certainly is not. The government is not living up to its obligations,” said Victor Nieblas Pradis, AILA President. He continued, “While the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) scrambled over the past few weeks to implement plans to potentially help them fend off this decision, the judge felt strongly that those plans were not sufficient. The judge noted that, even assuming the new policy complies with the Flores agreement, there is no guarantee that DHS and ICE won’t abruptly change the policy again. From everything being reported by attorneys volunteering for the CARA* project at the Dilley detention center, the new policies are in fact depriving mothers of due process and causing confusion and outright fear.”
Melissa Crow, Legal Director at the Council agreed, noting, “The judge clearly did not buy the government’s arguments. She expressed astonishment that DHS and ICE would move forward with policies that in no way conformed with a settlement agreement in place for nearly two decades. She concluded that the family detention facilities at Dilley and Karnes, which are secure and unlicensed, do not meet the Flores requirements. Importantly, she also notes that children should be released to a parent as a first preference, including a parent who presented herself or was apprehended with her child. The judge has confirmed what we have long known: imprisoning children and mothers is impermissible. The government has until August 3to show why the court’s ruling should not be implemented. We hope that they will take advantage of this opportunity to end family detention for good.”
Press inquiries, please contact:
George Tzamaras, American Immigration Lawyers Association, 202-507-7649, [email protected]
Wendy Feliz, American Immigration Council, 202-507-7524, [email protected]
*CARA is a pro bono project serving the mothers and children detained in Karnes and Dilley, Texas. The partners in this project are CLINIC, the Council, RAICES, and AILA.