Obama Administration Asks Judge to Reconsider Ruling to Release Children From Detention

August 7, 2015 5:30 pm

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WASHINGTON, D.C–The Department of Justice (DOJ) asked a federal judge yesterday to reconsider her ruling calling for the release of thousands of Central American families seeking refugee protection in the U.S. In her ruling the judge had confirmed that the 1997 Flores v. Reno settlement prohibits jailing migrant children and requires Homeland Security (DHS) to release children and parents together unless there is a significant flight risk or threat to public safety. Yesterday’s response filed by DOJ shows that the administration remains intent on continuing the practice of mass detention of children and mothers in unlicensed facilities. DOJ’s response also confirmed its intent to continue to railroad these families through summary removal processes that, as the ACLU has documented, all too frequently return those fleeing persecution to their persecutors.

Since June 2014, DHS has surged family detention, ramping up bed capacity from fewer than 100 beds to over 3000 beds. The ACLU, joined by human rights, children and refugee protection experts have called on the administration to end mass family detention, which has been shown to harm the health and well-being of children. Democrat leaders in Congress have visited the Texas family detention facilities and have publicly criticized the administration for continuing the mass detention of children and mothers.Last week 178 House Democrats urged DHS to quickly comply with the judge’s order and end family detention.

“Despite the President’s stated commitment to child protection and international human rights obligations, this administration continues to incarcerate children and mothers who have fled persecution and violence in Central America," said ACLU Legislative Counsel Joanne Lin. "This administration refuses to listen to the demands of Congress or to follow the federal court order. There is no system of mass family detention that is consistent with our historic commitments to protecting children and providing refuge to those fleeing persecution. Children should never be detained. The time has come to end mass family detention once and for all.”

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