In accordance with the Flores Settlement Agreement, which only covers children, U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee ruled June 26 that all children detained for more than 20 days at ICE Family Residential Centers (FRCs) be released no later than July 17, 2020. In her order, she states, “the Court is not surprised that COVID-19 has arrived at both the FRCs and ORR facilities, as health professionals have warned all along…that individuals living in congregate settings are more vulnerable to the virus,” and cites “[t]he recent increases in COVID-19 infection rates in the counties in which Karnes and Dilley are located…”. In the words of Judge Gee, “[t]he FRCs are “on fire” and there is no more time for half measures.”
Judge Gee only has authority over detained children under the Flores Settlement Agreement. And while we applaud Judge Gee’s decision, we are are worried ICE may use this court order to attempt to tear children away from their parents again. We cannot let this happen.
Our heart goes out to these families and children. We must pray for them, but also take action. One way is to tell your Legislators to release families together NOW. Please click here to take action via RAICES (The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services) which offers this easy action opportunity. The current deadline for decisionmaking is July 17th.