Family separation and child detention have become a hot-button topic in President Donald Trump's war on immigration. At least seven children have either died in custody or after being detained by federal immigration agencies at the border, and hundreds more remain separated from their families.
Federal immigration law, in the form of what's known as the Flores Agreement, regulates the manner in which migrant children may be detained, and limits how long they can remain in detention. The Trump administration has been battling against this memo's requirements, but was dealt a blow when a federal judge ruled they must remain in place, at least for now.
Following a hearing in a Los Angeles federal court, U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee tentatively ruled that the Department of Homeland Security could not implement new provisions until she issued a final ruling. Those provisions would allow families to be detained longer than the 20 days allowed under the Flores Agreement.
Attorneys for the government have moved to invalidate the agreement entirely, but Judge Gee seemed skeptical of their arguments, saying, "Just because you tell me it is night outside, does not mean it's not day."
"There wasn't a whole lot to be discussed given her conviction that the final regulations were inconsistent with the settlement agreement," Neha Desai, co-counsel for Flores said regarding Gee's ruling. "We know that this is not the end of the fight. We anticipate the defendants will appeal the ruling and we're ready to vigorously defend the agreement if and when it goes up on appeal."
As noted above, Gee's decision is not yet final. But an ultimate ruling is expected soon. Until then, immigration officials must abide by the Flores Settlement, which mandates that they:
For further questions about child detention or family separation, you can contact an experienced immigration attorney for answers.