A federal judge has turned down President Donald Trump’s request to alter a decades-old legal settlement to allow long-term detention of children who entered the U.S. illegally with their parents.
Los Angeles-based U.S. District Court Judge Dolly Gee dismissed as “tortured” the Trump administrations legal argument to get out from under the so-called Flores consent decree agreed to back in 1997, dictating that children in immigration detention not be held more than 20 days.
“Defendants seek to light a match to the Flores Agreement and ask this Court to upend the parties’ agreement by judicial fiat,” wrote Gee, an appointee of President Barack Obama. “It is apparent that Defendants’ Application is a cynical attempt…to shift responsibility to the Judiciary for over 20 years of Congressional inaction and ill-considered Executive action that have led to the current stalemate.”
Gee’s order says some immigrant families could be detained together if the parents’ consent, but suggests that without that consent immigration authorities must release the children.
An executive order Trump signed last month following a public outcry over the administration’s policy of separating immigrant families instructed the Justice Department to “promptly” ask the court to change the decree to permit a new approach of detaining children along with their parents.