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Home / U.S Customs and Border Protection

LA judge considers Border Patrol’s agreement to settle migrant children case

A Los Angeles federal judge is expected to consider a proposed settlement between a civil rights group and U.S. Customs and Border Protection over standards for the safe detention of immigrant children, according to court documents obtained Monday.

In the proposed settlement, filed over the weekend in Los Angeles federal court, the border patrol agrees to protocols requiring that detained minors be held in safe and sanitary conditions, not be separated from relatives, and have access to medical evaluations and prompt medical treatment when needed.

The 61-page agreement was reached two years after the Los Angeles-based Center For Human Rights and Constitutional Law challenged the conditions of children’s detention in border patrol facilities in Texas where tens of thousands of minors were reportedly held during the Trump administration.

It is up to U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee to evaluate the proposal.

“We believe the settlement will be approved by the court after the class notice is posted in border patrol facilities and class members have an opportunity to submit any objections they may have,” according to the human rights center.

The lawsuit was originally filed in 1985 challenging the conditions in which immigrant minors were detained and the failure to release them promptly to relatives living in the U.S. After numerous appeals, the case was settled in 1997 in what became known as the Flores settlement, named after Jenny Lissette Flores, the original plaintiff in the 1985 lawsuit.

The 1997 settlement set national standards for the conditions of detention and prompt release of all immigrant children. It allows the Center For Human Rights to monitor compliance with the settlement’s terms by inspecting detention sites and petition the federal court when it believed the terms are being violated.

The Trump administration sought to end the settlement but was denied by Gee and the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

In June 2019, the center petitioned the federal court overseeing compliance to hold the Trump administration in contempt for detaining thousands of children in allegedly overcrowded and unsanitary conditions after separation from parents.

Gee — who is overseeing compliance with the 1997 settlement — ordered the parties to meet in mediation to explore whether a new agreement could be reached setting standards that would ensure that conditions in border patrol facilities were “safe and sanitary.”

Because the 2019 complaint focused on conditions in the Rio Grande and El Paso border patrol sectors where the vast majority of accompanied and unaccompanied minors are detained, the settlement is limited to those two border patrol sectors, according to the center.

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