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In Settlement, U.S. to Provide Safe Housing to Migrant Kids At Border

A federal judge approved a settlement between immigration advocates and U.S. Immigration Customs and Border Protection (CGP) to provide safe and clean housing to minors at border facilities in Texas, Courthouse News Service reports. In a humanitarian crisis three years ago in border facilities at El Paso and Rio Grande, migrant children were kept for weeks in makeshift jails without access to soap, clean water, showers, clothing, toilets, nutritious food, or adequate sleep. U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee’s settlement requires CBP to treat minors with dignity and respect. This judge oversaw the 1997 Flores settlement on the detention of minors. That settlement calls for children to be placed in juvenile priority facilities where they are given access to toilets, showers, nutritious food, heating and cooling, medical care, clothing, blankets and supervision. Children must remain in contact with any adult with whom they came to the border and stay with their adult if feasible.

The Trump administration implemented a “zero tolerance” policy for people crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally. Because children could not be detained, the policy led to thousands of children being separated from their families. A federal judge has since ordered the federal government to reunite families. In 2019, the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law asked Judge Gee to place a temporary restraining order on CBP to investigate their living conditions. The center cited lights kept on 24 hours a day, extremely cold temperatures, and no access to medical care, sanitation, food or water. A pediatrician who visited a detention center to examine the children compared the living conditions to a torture chamber that violated their human rights.