A California federal judge has ordered immigrant children to be released from family detention centers by the US government as quickly as possible, and with their mothers where possible, court papers have revealed. US district judge Dolly Gee filed late Friday to reject the request made by the government to reconsider her ruling last month regarding the release of immigrant children held in such centers after being apprehended attempting to cross the border into the United States from Mexico.
Gee described the latest arguments by the US government as “repackaged and reheated” and found that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had breached a longstanding legal agreement to prevent immigrant children being detained in unlicensed secured facilities. Gee gave officials in the agency until no later than October 23rd to comply with her ruling.
Lawyers for the Department of Homeland Security had asked Gee to reconsider her ruling, saying that the agency was already trying to get families through the detention process as quickly as possible and converting the detention centers into short-term processing facilities. DHS spokeswoman Nicole Navas said on Friday that government attorneys were now reviewing the judge’s order.
Gee claims that immigration officials have frequently failed to process unaccompanied minors as expeditiously as they could, and that in some instances they may be purposefully “dragging their feet”. Gee also challenged the claim by DHS that ending family detention could result in another surge of undocumented immigrants crossing the border, describing this claim as “fear-mongering” and “speculative at best”.