By AMY TAXIN, Associated Press
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A U.S. judge on Friday blocked new Trump administration rules that would enable the government to keep immigrant children in detention facilities with their parents indefinitely.
U.S. District Court Judge Dolly Gee in Los Angeles said the rules conflict with a 1997 settlement agreement that requires the government to release immigrant children caught on the border as quickly as possible to relatives in the U.S. and says they can only be held in facilities licensed by a state.
Gee said the Flores agreement —named for a teenage plaintiff— will remain in place and govern the conditions for all immigrant children in U.S. custody, including those with their parents.
“The agreement has been necessary, relevant, and critical to the public interest in maintaining standards for the detention and release of minors arriving at the United States’ borders,” the judge wrote in her decision.
“Defendants willingly negotiated and bound themselves to these standards for all minors in its custody, and no final regulations or changed circumstances yet merit termination of the Flores agreement.”
The Trump administration sought to end the agreement and issued the new rules with the hope of detaining immigrant children in facilities with their parents. The move came as part of a broader crackdown on asylum seekers arriving on the Southwest border, many of them families with children from Central America.
The Flores agreement allows for the settlement to be phased out when rules are issued for the custody of immigrant children that are consistent with its terms.