Judge Orders ICE To Release Youth During Pandemic

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Citing the unrelenting spread of the coronavirus, a federal judge ordered that all children held in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody for more than 20 days must be released by July 17, NPR reports. U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee of California issued the scathing order Friday, saying the Trump administration had failed to provide even the most basic health protections for children and their families amid the pandemic. She described the ICE-operated facilities as “on fire,” adding that “there is no more time for half measures.” Gee wrote, “Although progress has been made, the Court is not surprised that [COVID-19] has arrived at both the [Family Residential Centers] and [Office of Refugee Resettlement] facilities, as health professionals have warned all along.”

The order applies to all three family detention facilities in the U.S., two in Texas and a third in Pennsylvania, as well as shelters housing unaccompanied minors. As of Thursday, at least 11 people at a family detention center in Karnes City, Tx., have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Four employees at another facility in Dilley, 90 miles away, have also tested positive for the coronavirus. Meanwhile, an independent monitor and a physician who inspected ICE’s family detention centers reported this month that given the infection rates in the counties where the Texas facilities are located, there is “even more cause for concern.”

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