WASHINGTON, DC – FWD.us Vice President of Advocacy Alida Garcia issued the following statement today after U.S. District Court Judge Dolly Gee ordered the release of all children held for more than 20 days at three ICE detention centers in Texas and Pennsylvania by July 17:
“It is outrageous and alarming that the Trump Administration repeatedly fails to meet its legal and moral obligation of protecting the safety and welfare of children, particularly as the highly contagious and deadly coronavirus sweeps through detention facilities across the country. Continuing to detain vulnerable children and their parents in unsanitary immigration jails with confirmed COVID-19 cases is cruel and an affront to the sanctity of human life.
“We applaud Judge Gee’s ruling for recognizing the inhumane and grave conditions that children in ICE detention are exposed to, and for requiring their prompt release from centers in Pennsylvania and Texas as they await due process as enshrined in our laws. However, we know that the true safety of these children is reliant on them being released with their parents and not subject to the long-term harm caused by family separation.
“ICE has the discretion to release children and families together. They should do so immediately, without delay. This order cannot be an excuse for more family separation. We urge Governors Abbott and Wolf to take every step possible to eliminate the jailing of children and families in their states. Further, the Trump Administration should stop exploiting the deadly coronavirus pandemic to jeopardize the safety of children and advance its hateful, anti-immigrant agenda.”
On Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Dolly Gee of California ordered that all children held for more than 20 days at three Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centers in Texas and Pennsylvania must be released by July 17 to their parents or family sponsors. Citing recent outbreaks of the highly contagious and deadly coronavirus at two of the three facilities, Judge Gee said the Trump Administration had failed to provide even the most basic health protections for detained children and their families. She described the facilities as being “on fire,” adding that “there is no more time for half measures,” according to NPR.
In court filings revealed last week, ICE admitted that 11 children and parents have tested positive for COVID-19 at the detention center Karnes City, Texas. At least three parents and a child have also been placed in isolation in a center at Dilley, Texas, according to multiple news sources.