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Judge Orders Release of Immigrant Families

In California, a federal judge ordered the government to release immigrant children being held in family detention centers with their mothers when possible, and without unnecessary delays.

In a filing on Aug. 21, California U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee refused to reconsider the government’s request, which asked her to reconsider the ruling that she made in late July.

In July’s ruling, she said that children who were being held in family detention centers after crossing the US-Mexican border illegally must be quickly released.

She called the government’s latest arguments “repackaged and reheated.” She said that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was in breach of a longstanding agreement that said that immigrant children are not to be held in unlicensed secured facilities.

She gave the agency until October 23 to comply with her order.

Homeland Security’s attorneys asked the judge to reconsider her ruling, arguing that the agency was doing its best to move the families out of detention as fast as possible. The lawyers also said that the facilities were converted to short-term processing centers.

This marks the second time that Gee ruled that detaining children violates a 1997 settlement, which requires that minors are placed with a family member or in non-secure custody within five days.

However, when there is a large influx of children, it can take longer. Still, children must be released as fast as possible under the law.

In Gee’s order, she said that immigration officials routinely failed to proceed as expeditiously as possible to place the accompanied minors, and that in some cases, they still may be dragging their feet.

According to Peter Schey, the executive director of the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, the court’s order will protect refugee children and their mothers from lengthy and senseless detentions.

After thousands of immigrants crossed the Rio Grande into the U.S., the government poured millions into two large detention centers in Karnes City and Dilley. These Texas detention centers are run by private prison operators.

Many of these immigrants are mothers and children who are petitioning for asylum after escaping domestic and gang violence in their home countries.

Do you or a family member need legal advice regarding an immigration matter? Contact a Plano immigration lawyer from The Zendeh Del Law Firm for the help you need.