Originally Published in The Hill
Zack Budryk - July 23, 2020
Nearly 350 migrant parents and children remain detained in facilities with coronavirus outbreaks nearly a month after a federal court ruled all children must be released “with all deliberate speed” from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facilities.
A total of 346 children and parents remain detained in the facilities, despite District Judge Dolly Gee’s order in June, NBC News reported. In her ruling, Gee said the facilities were “on fire, and there is no more time for half measures.”
ICE has previously released parents with their children, according to the news source, but the detention facilities have refused to do so by the July 27 deadline given to the agency by the judge.
The news comes as COVID-19 outbreaks have surged across the nation, with California, Texas and Arizona — all states with ICE detention facilities — becoming hot spots for the disease.
On Tuesday, RAICES and Aldea–The People’s Justice Center, two of three legal service providers representing the migrants in the case, filed a motion to intervene in the government negotiating a waiver deal with the third provider, Peter Schey.
The two providers argued Schey, the lead attorney for the migrants, is not “adequately represent[ing]” his clients and should not be negotiating the deal, which would potentially allow parents to choose between remaining in detention with their children or separately releasing their children.
The other lawyers submitted a letter addressed to Schey to the court, saying his negotiations are "at odds with the stated interests, health, and well-being of our clients." They are arguing that ICE should instead release parents and children together, and in the meantime, put stringent safety measures in place, NBC reported.
The Trump administration filed a response to the motion to intervene Wednesday, writing that the federal government had “opposed the family separation process now requested by the Plaintiffs and ordered by this Court."
Amy Maldonado, an attorney who is representing detained families in a separate federal case, called the government’s claim “laughable,” saying “what we know is that for new intakes in at least one of the facilities [Karnes County Residential Center in Texas] they’re asking people to separate at intake.”
"Obviously the government's policy has been about separations. They never stopped separating children from their parents,” she added.
The Hill has reached out to ICE for comment.