Last night amidst the craziness surrounding Trump’s Supreme Court nomination, a court rejected the administration’s request to change the terms of the Flores settlement which says they cannot keep immigrant children in custody for over 20 days:
NBC NEWS – In a scathing ruling late Monday, a U.S. District Court judge here rejected the Trump administration’s request to detain migrant families at the border for as long as it takes to adjudicate their cases.
In rejecting the request by President Donald Trump’s Justice Department to modify the so-called Flores agreement of 1997, which dictates a 20-day maximum detention period for children caught at the border, Judge Dolly M. Gee said the government was bound by the deal.
Calling the DOJ’s legal maneuvers a “cynical attempt” to shift responsibility for immigration policy to the judiciary, Gee said nothing is preventing the administration from “reconsidering their current blanket policy of family detention.”
The administration’s argument that parents won’t show up to court if they’re released “does not support a blanket non-release policy,” Gee wrote in a sharply-worded ruling.
That might seem like a setback, but the DOJ says they can keep doing what they’ve been doing:
The DOJ, however, interpreted the ruling to mean it can continue business as usual at the border.
Justice Department spokesman Devin O’Malley said in a statement that the department was weighing its options. But the ruling means the government can still keep families detained, he said.
” … The court does appear to acknowledge that parents who cross the border will not be released and must choose between remaining in family custody with their children pending immigration proceedings or requesting separation from their children so the child may be placed with a sponsor,” O’Malley said.
“The Trump Administration continues to make good faith efforts that allow us to not only enforce the law, address the crisis of illegal immigration our border, and protect our nation and its citizens, but also protect the safety of children in government care and custody,” he said. “We disagree with the court’s ruling declining to amend the Flores Agreement to recognize the current crisis of families making the dangerous and unlawful journey across our southern border … “
When asked about the ruling this morning, Trump responded…
After court ruling, President Trump says he has a solution to keep families from being separated at the border: “Tell people not to come to our country illegally. That's the solution." https://t.co/rTIYgM9IPU pic.twitter.com/OJuMMDOzEJ
— NBC News (@NBCNews) July 10, 2018
Well he’s not wrong. In fact I really like that Trump is saying that because it’s exactly the message the United States should be sending to people considering coming to America. Come legally, or not at all.
That said, he did evade the question. But I”m sure that’s because the effective legal outcome of all these recent rulings is “catch and release” and I doubt very seriously Trump wants to do that:
A ruling June 26 by a federal judge in San Diego ordered immigration authorities to reunite children and parents detained and separated at the border. Taken together with Monday’s decision, the edicts would appear to hasten the release of a class of mostly Central American migrants represented by more than 3,000 children taken from parents at the border since May.
Trump can, of course, appeal this decision:
The Trump administration can appeal Monday’s ruling in Los Angeles to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. It can also ask the original plaintiff in Flores, represented by the Center for Human Rights & Constitutional Law, to reconsider its settlement with the government that limited child detentions to 20 days.
And I’m sure they will. After all they appear to be taking this very seriously at the border.