LOS ANGELES (CNS) — The Los Angeles federal judge overseeing a 1997 court settlement governing the care of migrant children in detention rejected the government’s request to continue detaining minors in hotels, according to court papers obtained on Tuesday, Sept. 22.
US District Judge Dolly Gee wrote that “placing minors in licensed, regulated facilities, with proper safety protocols, would likely do more to mitigate the spread of the (coronavirus) than housing them in hotels open to the public,” according to the order filed Monday in Los Angeles federal court.
Gee wrote in the order, which takes effect on Sep. 28, that the Trump administration’s logic for the use of the hotels program is “bewildering” in light of the threat from the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, Gee allowed the US Department of Homeland Security to implement brief hotel stays of not more than 72 hours in order to alleviate bottlenecks in the intake processes at licensed facilities.
The two-decades-old Flores settlement agreement outlines a minimum standard of care for migrant children in US custody.
In August 2019, the Trump administration announced an effort to end the agreement. The state of California immediately filed suit opposing the effort.
The same month, a three-judge appeals court panel upheld Gee’s order requiring immigration authorities to provide minors with adequate food, water, bedding, toothbrushes and soap.
Gee issued the order in 2017 after finding that children in US Customs and Border Protection custody did not have adequate food, clean water or basic hygiene items and were held in conditions that deprived them of sleep.