Judge tells US government to release immigrant children

Court injunction not deliberately violated by immigration officialsThe detention of immigrant children and their mothers captured crossing the border between Mexico and the United States violates a longstanding court settlement, a federal judge has ruled. On Friday US District Judge Dolly Gee of the Federal Circuit of California ruled that undocumented immigrant children and their mothers being held in custody should be quickly released.

Gee seemed to show a willingness to order undocumented immigrant children and their parents to be released within 90 days if US officials do not come up with convincing arguments as to why they should be kept in custody. “Children and their mothers were held for one to three days in rooms with 100 or more unrelated adults and children, which forced children to sleep standing up or not at all,” the Los Angeles-based judge wrote in her 25-page ruling.

Gee says that immigrant children have been kept in custody in deplorable conditions in facilities belonging to the US Border Patrol after being apprehended, with authorities failing completely to provide the kind of sanitary and safe environment expected for children. The judge made the ruling based on an immigration lawsuit settlement from 1997 in which the federal government was required to minimize the amount of time that children were kept in detention.

The ruling is yet another blow to the immigration policies pursued by President Obama, whose administration currently has around 1,700 parents and children in detention.