Immigration Law

Judge: ICE Violated Landmark Settlement Agreement, Must Release Refugee Moms, Kids

"Defendants do not satisfactorily explain why the Agreement, after being in effect since 1997, should only now encourage others to enter the United States without authorization.  Nor do Defendants proffer any competent evidence that ICE’s detention of a subset of class members in secure, unlicensed facilities has deterred or will deter others from attempting to enter the United States.  As discussed supra, the Court has considered in detail the evidence Defendants presented of the deterrent effect of the detention policy and finds the evidence distinctly lacking in scientific rigor.  It is astonishing that Defendants have enacted a policy requiring such expensive infrastructure without more evidence to show that it would be compliant with an Agreement that has been in effect for nearly 20 years or effective at achieving what Defendants hoped it would accomplish.  It is even more shocking that after nearly two decades Defendants have not implemented appropriate regulations to deal with this complicated area of immigration law.  In light of the evidence, or lack thereof, the Court finds that Defendants have failed to meet their burden of showing that a change in factual circumstances requires modification of the Agreement.  Based on the foregoing, the Court finds that Defendants are in breach of the Agreement and GRANTS Plaintiffs’ motion to enforce the Agreement.  Defendants’ motion to amend the Agreement is DENIED.  Defendants are hereby ordered to show cause why the following remedies should not be implemented within 90 days." - Flores v. Johnson, July 24, 2015.

New York Times, July 26, 2015- "A federal judge in California has ruled that the Obama administration’s detention of children and their mothers who were caught crossing the border illegally is a serious violation of a longstanding court settlement, and that the families should be released as quickly as possible.  In a decision late Friday roundly rejecting the administration’s arguments for holding the families, Judge Dolly M. Gee of Federal District Court for the Central District of California found that two detention centers in Texas that the administration opened last summer fail to meet minimum legal requirements of the 1997 settlement for facilities housing children. Judge Gee also found that migrant children had been held in “widespread deplorable conditions” in Border Patrol stations after they were first caught, and she said the authorities had “wholly failed” to provide the “safe and sanitary” conditions required for children even in temporary cells.  The opinion was a significant legal blow to detention polices ordered by Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson in response to an influx of children and parents, mostly from Central America, across the border in South Texas last summer. In her 25-page ruling, Judge Gee gave a withering critique of the administration’s positions, declaring them “unpersuasive” and “dubious” and saying officials had ignored “unambiguous” terms of the settlement."