The American Bar Association applauds the August 21, 2015 decision by U.S. District Judge Dolly M. Gee in Flores v. Lynch, No. 85-04544 (C.D.Ca.), recognizing that accompanied children detained by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security have no fewer rights than unaccompanied children. In a historic decision applying the 1997 Flores settlement agreement to children currently held in family detention facilities with a parent, Judge Gee ordered the government to place these children with an available adult or in a non-secure, licensed facility within five days, or in the event of an emergency or influx of children, “as expeditiously as possible.” The court notes, “[i]n sum, Defendants have offered no credible reason why they cannot comply with the INA (“Immigration and Nationality Act”) while simultaneously adhering to the Agreement’s proscription against holding children for prolonged periods in secure, unlicensed facilities.” The Court’s remedies include the release of accompanying parents unless they are subject to mandatory detention or pose a significant flight risk or security threat. The government is required to implement the court’s orders no later than October 23, 2015.
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