Federal Judge Mandates Border Patrol's Responsibility for Migrant Children in Detention

Federal Judge Mandates Border Patrol’s Responsibility for Migrant Children in Detention

A federal judge said on Wednesday that the federal government is accountable for migrants it locks up, even if they haven’t been officially processed.

Numerous migrants have been left to camp in the desert, frequently for days, since the number of migrants crossing the border between Mexico and Southern California has surpassed the capacity of local detention facilities.

Legal groups representing migrant children residing in camps filed a lawsuit in Flores v. Garland, claiming the youngsters were being kept in “inhumane” conditions.

The argument that the conditions weren’t suitable wasn’t generally contested by the US Border Patrol. It contended that the agency had not formally assumed care for the children by processing the claim, hence the court lacked jurisdiction over the agency in this matter.

That notion was categorically rejected by U.S. District Court of Central California Judge Dolly Gee.

Gee acknowledged that the agency might not have planned for makeshift camping areas to turn into filthy outdoor holding facilities for thousands of refugees.

However, she stated that since the circumstances have “evolved such that the minors held there” are under the agency’s legal custody, it is its duty to provide for them.

The 27-year-old Flores v. Sessions ruling, which said that the Department of Homeland Security is in charge of sheltering “all minors who are detained in the legal custody” of the organization, is the fundamental decision underlying the current case.

Gee concluded that the fact that the kids hadn’t been formally processed didn’t matter since they were being detained by an organization that had “decision-making authority over [their] health and welfare,” in a guarded location from which they would be forcibly removed if they attempted to escape.

For example, the court determined that Customers and Border Protection (CBP) “largely controls the provision” of basic amenities at the camping sites, such as drinking water and handwashing stations, in addition to portable restrooms and dumpsters, the latter of which Gee observed were “quickly filled and infrequently serviced.”

The court determined that although volunteer organizations make an effort to give food, clothing, and sanitary services to those incarcerated in the open air detention camp, “the need outpaces their ability to provide this assistance.”

According to the court, migrants in the detention camps often receive “one bottle of water and one pack of crackers” each day. National rules for migrant custody mandate that children receive two hot meals per day and a meal every six hours.

Moreover, Gee discovered that the porta potties and dumpsters, which are not regularly cleaned and are not sufficiently plentiful, “are unflowing and unusable.”

“This means that the [open-air detention sites] not only have a foul smell, but also that trash is strewn about, and [migrants] are forced to relieve themselves outdoors.”

The court concluded that there was “abundant evidence” that the care the kids were getting at these camping locations “is not adequate for minors,” after establishing that the kids were in U.S. custody.

Ultimately, the court determined that CBP “had not been processing [migrants] as expeditiously as possible,” while Gee refused to impose a strict time restriction on the agency’s processing duration.

However, she issued a warning that the court will take “further remedial measures” as a result of the agency’s “failure to process minors in a reasonably expedition manner.”