A federal judge in Los Angeles has ruled that children who are being held in the three family residential centers should be released by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
While issuing the order on Friday June 26, 2020, the judge noted the release was necessary to avoid proliferation of coronavirus infections in the centers.
Dolly Gee, a U.S. District Judge, ordered that by July 17 children who have spent more than 20 days at ICE family residential centers should be released to non-congregate settings where they could enjoy suitable sponsor.
The children who as of June 8 totaled 124 could also be released alongside their parents if condition warrants it.
The ruling is part of 199 Flores settlement agreement that sets standard for treatment of migrant children by the government.
According to Gee, the centers are right now on fire and actions need to be taken without delay. She cited several examples of infections at some of the facilities.
For examples there have been cases of employees having the Covid-19 infections at a facility in Texas and about 11 detainees already infected at center in Kansas.
In the ICE statistics as of Friday about 751 out of 8,858 detainees in their custody have tested positive.
Gee faulted the family residential centers for being potential hotspots for the virus. She therefore ordered that ICE to contain the spread of the virus at the migrant detention facilities.
“The court is not surprised thatCOVID-19 has arrived” at ICE and U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement facilities,” Gee said.
“ICE shall urgently enforce its existing COVID-19 protocols,” including social distancing, requiring mask use and testing,” she urged.
Meanwhile Gee ruling in September that ordered the government to agree to the Flores agreement received criticism from the White House referring to Gee as an activist judge and calling the Flores agreement as a loophole in the law.
While responding to the ruling, the White House Press Secretary said “activist judges have imposed their own vision in the place of those duly enacted laws,” referring to Gee who is an activist judge.