As COVID-19 Cases Rise, a California Federal Judge Orders ICE to Free Immigrant Children

According to a report from National Public Radio (NPR), a California federal judge has ordered all children being held by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for more than 20 days to be released before July 17th. The decision applies to all three of the agency’s Family Residential Centers (FRC). 

The court determined that the federal government has failed to implement basic health and safety protections in family detention facilities. The ruling comes as COVID-19 cases are starting to rise again—particularly in states with large immigration detention facilitates, including in Texas and in Arizona. 

Judicial Order: Federal Government Failed to Provide Adequate Protection

On June 26th, U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee ordered all migrant children held in Family Residential Centers (FRCs) and by the Office of Refugee Resettlement to be released within 20 days of being taken into the custody of the federal government. In a scathing decision, Judge Gee emphasized that the Trump Administration has wholly failed to provide even the most basic health protections for migrants. 

According to court documents, the federal government currently has more than 600 migrant children in family detention facilities in Texas, in Pennsylvania, and in other shelters run by the Office of Refugee Resettlement. The largest family detention center in the United States is the 3,000 bed facility in Frio County, TX—approximately an hour southwest of San Antonio. Judge Gee’s order notes that this and other facilities are not doing enough to protect vulnerable migrants.  

COVID-19 outbreaks have been a very serious problem in immigration detention facilities. We are now seeing early warning signs that the pandemic is escalating in many areas. For reference, COVID-19 cases are shooting up in the South and the Southwest. Recently, the United States set a one-day record for new COVID-19 cases—and cases are rising especially sharply in the state of Texas. 

Trump Administration Forcing Parents to Make Difficult Choice

In some ways, the Trump Administration’s horrific family separation policies never truly ended. While important reforms were made, the Administration has put barriers between parents and their children. Over the last several years, federal immigration enforcement policy has forced many migrant parents to make an almost impossible choice: 

  1. Stay together with their children in an immigration detention facility; or
  2. Remain locked up and allow their child to be released into the custody of another party. 

In light of the federal court ruling, there could be a truly positive change coming over the next few weeks. Immigration rights groups are hopeful that Judge Gee’s ruling will lead to the Trump Administration releasing entire families together. Neither adults nor children should be locked into dangerous detention centers during a global pandemic. 

Call Our Los Angeles Immigration Law Attorney for Immediate Assistance

At Goldstein Immigration Lawyers, our Los Angeles immigration attorneys are skilled, focused advocates for clients. We are dedicated to helping people get the best possible outcome in their case. You deserve personalized representation for an experienced immigration lawyer. For a confidential review of your case, please call our Los Angeles law office today.