As Republican presidential candidates toughen their stances on undocumented residents, a federal judge in California ruled that a policy based on “fear-mongering” by the Obama administration violated the rights of migrant mothers and children who crossed into the U.S. last year, the Christian Science Monitor reports. On Friday, U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee called the Obama administration's argument that releasing some 1,400 children and mothers from three detention facilities in Texas and Pennsylvania would inspire more illegal border crossings “speculative.” She ordered the government to release them “without unnecessary delay.”
The ruling, which reinforces a similar order Gee handed down last month, could move the needle on a political problem for the U.S.: How to balance basic constitutional and human rights of migrants with the bureaucratic challenge of stemming lawless migration across the southern border. Judge Gee's finding that migrant women and children are being held in “deplorable” conditions also touches on a growing political debate over natural, or inalienable, rights, which infuse the Constitution. That includes the 14th Amendment, which says that anyone born in the U.S. is a U.S. citizen. Presidential candidates, including Republicans Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, have argued for the repeal of the 14th Amendment, to deter foreign mothers from traveling to the U.S. to have babies. Critics say that stance undermines core American values, including respect for natural rights of human beings above immediate interests of the state.