DETROIT – A federal judge Friday blocked new regulations that would have let the Trump administration indefinitely detain migrant children and families through the length of their immigration proceedings.
U.S. District Court Judge Dolly Gee of the Central District of California issued a permanent injunction against the Trump administration’s rule, which would have placed no limit on the detention of children and changed the licensing authority for facilities housing them.
Gee found the regulations violated the terms of a 1997 settlement known as the Flores agreement that sets standards for the treatment of migrant children, including that they must be released from non-licensed facilities within 20 days.
“The blessing or the curse — depending on one’s vantage point — of a binding contract is its certitude,” Gee wrote in her order. “The Flores Agreement is a binding contract and a consent decree.”
“Defendants cannot simply ignore the dictates of the consent decree merely because they no longer agree with its approach as a matter of policy,” she wrote.
The judge added that to seek relief from such a decree, the government would have to demonstrate that a change in law or facts rendered their compliance illegal or impossible, or through a change in law from Congress.
“Having failed to obtain such relief, Defendants cannot simply impose their will by promulgating regulations that abrogate the consent decree’s most basic tenets,” she wrote. “That violates the rule of law. And that this Court cannot permit.”