Judge orders ICE to free migrant children from family detention during coronavirus pandemic, report says
The Associated Press reported that a judge wrote in her order that migrant detention centers “are ‘on fire’ and there is no more time for half measures.”
As the coronavirus spreads in detention centers, a federal judge ordered the release of migrant children held for more than 20 days at three family detention centers in Texas and Pennsylvania, the Associated Press reported Friday.
District Judge Dolly Gee wrote in an order that detention centers “are ‘on fire’ and there is no more time for half measures.” Her order mandated that by July 17, the affected children and their parents be released from the centers or sent to live with family sponsors.
In May, Immigration and Customs Enforcement said it was detaining 184 migrant children along with their parents at these three centers, which include the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley and the Karnes County Residential Center in Karnes City.
At the Karnes City facility, ICE reported 11 children and parents have tested positive for COVID-19, and in Dilley, at least three individuals, including a two-year-old, have been placed in isolation after two private contractors and an ICE official tested positive.
“[ICE needs] to make the sensible choice and release the parents to care for their children,” Amy Maldonado, an attorney who works with detained families, told the Associated Press.
Gee’s order does not directly apply to parents, but most parents at the detention centers last month refused to designate a different family sponsor for their children upon the children’s release, leading ICE to establish “routine parole reviews” for children and their parents.
More than 2,500 detainees have tested positive for COVID-19 while in ICE custody, the AP reported. ICE has said it has released more than 900 detainees with increased medical risks and de-densified the detainee populations at the three family detention centers in Texas and Pennsylvania. But according to the agency in May, most people in family detention are considered flight risks because of pending deportation orders or cases under review.
Information about the authors
Quality journalism doesn't come free
Perhaps it goes without saying — but producing quality journalism isn't cheap. At a time when newsroom resources and revenue across the country are declining, The Texas Tribune remains committed to sustaining our mission: creating a more engaged and informed Texas with every story we cover, every event we convene and every newsletter we send. As a nonprofit newsroom, we rely on members to help keep our stories free and our events open to the public. Do you value our journalism? Show us with your support.Yes, I'll donate today