Federal Judge Blocks Trump Administration’s Plan to Detain Migrant Children Indefinitely

According to reporting from the Los Angeles Times, United States District Judge Dolly Gee has blocked the Trump Administration’s latest effort to push for the indefinite detention of migrant children. Earlier this summer, the administration unveiled proposed rule changes that sought to end key aspects of the Flores Settlement. At least for the time being, the California federal judge’s decision protects the original conditions contained within the Flores Settlement and prevents the indefinite detention of migrant kids. 

The Flores Settlement Limits Child Detention at 20 Days

Reached in 1997, the Flores Settlement put important legal protections in place for migrant children. It came in response to serious mistreatment of young immigrant children that occurred in the 1980s. Similar to today, many of the migrant children crossing the border in the 1980s were fleeing dangerous conditions in Central America. 

Among other things, the Flores Settlement strictly limits the amount of time that a migrant child can be held in a U.S. immigration detention facility at 20 days. After that 20-day period is up, the migrant child cannot be detained any longer. They must be released. 

President Trump has spent years cutting down the legal structure that protects immigrant rights. In August, the administration made a direct attack on the Flores Settlement. It moved to unilaterally end the agreement. In other words, the Trump Administration openly argued that it needed the right to carry out the long-term, indefinite detention of migrant children. Of course, detention of migrant children was just the first step in the process. The administration also wanted deportation

Federal Judge: Trump Administration Cannot Ignore the Law

More than two decades after it was agreed to by the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Flores Settlement is binding United States law. The Trump Administration does not have the authority to simply ignore the law and to terminate key terms of the agreement. 

As federal Judge Dolly Gee wrote in her decision blocking the administration’s attempt to change the rules, the Trump Administration cannot “abrogate the consent decree’s most basic tenets.” Any change in the Flores Settlement to allow indefinite detention of minors—which would be a bad, immoral policy— would have to come from Congress. 

The Los Angeles Times indicates that the Trump Administration is expected to appeal this case. Although this decision is certainly a significant victory for the rule of law and for immigrant rights, the case is not over yet.  

Consult With a Los Angeles Immigration Law Attorney Right Away

At the Law Office of Joshua L. Goldstein, PC, our Los Angeles deportation defense lawyers fight aggressively to protect the rights of our clients. We understand the complexities of the American immigration system and we are committed to getting results. For a fully private review of your case, please reach out to our legal team today at (213) 262-2000. We represent immigrants throughout Southern California, including in Los Angeles, Anaheim, Glendale, Long Beach, Compton, East Los Angeles, and Beverly Hills.