Court-Ordered Release of Children May Lead to Family Separation

Source: Immigration Impact

Last week, Federal Judge Dolly Gee from the Central District of California ordered that all children held for more than 20 days at three ICE family detention centers must be released by July 17th due to the coronavirus pandemic.

This order forces ICE to comply with existing laws established under the Flores Settlement, a court settlement from 1997 that set basic standards for the care and release of minors in immigration custody. After Judge Gee’s ruling, ICE has discretion to either release the children with their parents or release them to another sponsor with their parent’s consent.

However, the order leaves room for several exceptions: ICE can continue to detain children that do not have an available sponsor, that failed to appear at a past hearing without an explanation, or if their parent waives their rights under the Flores Settlement in order to prevent separation.

Peter Schey, counsel for the children said, “Some parents facing deportation brought their children to this country to save them from rampant violence in their home countries and would prefer to see their child released to relatives here rather than being deported with the parent to [those countries].”

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