US & World

Judge To Appoint Special Monitor To Oversee Detention Facilities

A plaque marks the U.S. border on the Paso Del Norte Port of Entry bridge which connects the U.S. and Mexico on July 23, 2018. As many as 2,551 migrant children ages 5 to 17 were separated from their families after they crossed into the U.S. from Mexico along the border.
A plaque marks the U.S. border on the Paso Del Norte Port of Entry bridge which connects the U.S. and Mexico on July 23, 2018. As many as 2,551 migrant children ages 5 to 17 were separated from their families after they crossed into the U.S. from Mexico along the border.
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A federal judge in Los Angeles will appoint an independent monitor to evaluate conditions for immigrant children in U.S. border facilities.

The decision comes after immigration lawyers argued that the Trump administration has been holding children and their parents in inhumane conditions. The government denied the allegations, and opposed the appointment of a monitor.

In a hearing on Friday, Judge Dolly Gee said she reached her decision after seeing a "disconnect" between government monitors' assessment of conditions in facilities in the Rio Grande Valley, and the accounts of more than 200 immigrant children and their parents detailing numerous problems, including spoiled food and foul-smelling water.

Judge Gee oversees the Flores settlement, which was signed more than 20 years ago. It dictates how the government must care for children in immigration detention, and limits how long they can be held in jail-like detention centers to about three weeks.

The parties have until Aug. 10 to agree on a proposed monitor. If they can't, each side will make suggestions to Judge Gee, and she will choose her own.

Her decision came one day after a court-imposed deadline for the Trump administration to reunite thousands of migrant families that it separated at the U.S.-Mexico border. Judge Dana Sabraw set that reunification deadline and is holding a status conference on Friday afternoon in San Diego.

The Trump administration says it has reunited all the families it considers "eligible" for reunification. More than 1,400 children have been reunited with their parents, according to the administration. But more than 700 children have not been reunified because their parents are "ineligible" — including more than 400 who are no longer in the U.S.

Judge Sabraw is likely to consider what's next for them in Friday's hearing.

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