Government must release migrant children in detention centers because of coronavirus, judge orders

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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement must release children held in the country’s three family detention centers by July 17 because of the danger posed by the coronavirus pandemic, a federal judge in Los Angeles ordered.

U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee said in a ruling Friday that children held for more than 20 days at ICE family residential centers should be released by July 17 to “non-congregate settings” that include “suitable sponsors” and even to their own parents, who can also be released if conditions warrant it.

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The centers “are ‘on fire’ and there is no more time for half measures,” Gee wrote.

She cited “unevenly implemented written protocols,” employees with COVID-19 at one Texas facility, and 11 detainees with the virus at a family residential center in Kansas.

“The court is not surprised that COVID-19 has arrived” at ICE and U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement facilities, Gee wrote.

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