News and Commentary

Federal Judge Orders Trump Administration To Stop Holding Migrant Children In Hotels
Cute little four year old girl enjoying the stay at a luxurious apratment with her parents.
FluxFactory/Getty Images

First, the Trump administration was ordered not to hold migrant children with their families in immigration jails. Now, the administration can’t detain migrant children in hotels before removing them from the United States.

The Associated Press reported Saturday that U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee ruled Friday “that the use of hotels as long-term detention spaces violates a two-decade-old settlement governing the treatment of immigrant children in custody.”

More from the AP:

She ordered border agencies to stop placing children in hotels by Sept. 15 and to remove children from hotels as soon as possible.

To prevent them from being allowed to stay in the U.S., the Trump administration has taken at least 577 unaccompanied children to hotels since March, where they are detained and then typically placed on deportation flights. Most of the children have been placed in Hampton Inn & Suites hotels — two in Texas, one in Arizona.

That’s instead of sending them to shelters operated by the Department of Health and Human Services, where minors receive legal services, education, and the chance to be placed with relatives living in the U.S. Those facilities are licensed by the states where they are located. More than 13,000 beds in HHS facilities are currently empty.

In June, Judge Gee ordered the Trump administration to release children that were being held in immigration jails with their parents, the AP reported. The order applied “to children held for more than 20 days at three family detention centers in Texas and Pennsylvania operated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement,” the AP reported, noting that some of the children had been detained in the centers since 2019.

More from the AP:

Citing the recent spread of the virus in two of the three facilities, Gee set a deadline of July 17 for children to either be released with their parents or sent to family sponsors.

The family detention centers “are ‘on fire’ and there is no more time for half measures,” she wrote.

In May, ICE said it was detaining 184 children at the three detention centers, which are separate from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services facilities for unaccompanied children that were holding around 1,000 children in early June. The numbers in both systems have fallen significantly since earlier in the Trump administration because the U.S. is expelling most people trying to cross the border or requiring them to wait for their immigration cases in Mexico.

The outlet further reported in June that parents “refused to designate a sponsor when ICE officials unexpectedly asked them who could take their children if the adults remained detained, according to lawyers for the families.”

Immigration activists want all those who have entered the country illegally to simply be released. These activists now claim this should happen due to coronavirus concerns, but they were advocating for such a release even before the pandemic began.

Gee’s most recent order requires the Trump administration to send unaccompanied children to the HHS facilities, while allowing children to be held in hotels for one or two nights if traveling to different facilities.

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