A U.S. district judge ordered ICE on Friday to release children held with their parents at immigration detention centers due to perceived the risk of detained children contracting Coronavirus.
According to Fox News, “U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee’s order applies 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. Some have been detained since last year.” This ruling comes a week after the Supreme Court ruled against the Trump Administration’s move to rescind the Obama-era DACA policy giving immunity to illegal immigrants who entered the U.S. as children if they meet certain requirements,
Judge Gee set a deadline of July 17th for children to be released from the three U.S. holding facilities if they’ve resided there for more than 20 days to either their parents or an approved sponsor. Two of the three family detention centers – two in Texas and one in Pennsylvania – have seen about a dozen combined confirmed or suspected cases of Coronavirus. Over 2,500 people detained by ICE have tested positive for Coronavirus this year.
Currently, 124 children are detained at the centers in questions, “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 Trump Administration has been swiftly expelling migrants who attempt to enter the U.S. illegally in recent months because of the threat Coronavirus infection poses to U.S. citizens. The Associated Press reports, “border agents have been quickly placing children and teenagers on deportation flights instead of turning them over to federal facilities for placement with sponsors.” The administration’s swift removal of border crossers contributes to the lower than usual population in holding facilities.
According to Fox, “Gee’s order says ICE can decline to release a child if there is not a suitable sponsor, the child’s parent waives rights under the Flores agreement, or if there is a ‘prior unexplained failure to appear at a scheduled hearing.'” However, most migrant parents have refused to designate a sponsor for their children.
Advocates for the migrant children are calling for a de facto release of all migrants who enter the U.S. with children, claiming it would be wrong to both separate children from their families in order to live with sponsors and to keep families detained together leaving no viable option other than releasing all detainees.
Despite complaints, the Associated Press also wrote, “ICE says it has released hundreds of people deemed to have heightened exposure to the virus, though it has contested lawsuits across the country demanding the releases of others.”
“In court filings last month, ICE said it considered most of the people in family detention to be flight risks because they had pending deportation orders or cases under review,” according to Fox News.
Statistically, children under 18 have the lowest risk of contracting Coronavirus and developing complications from the illness. They’re also the most likely to recover as this illness primarily affects the elderly and those with preexisting conditions.
Categories: U.S. News