A federal judge has ruled that the U.S. Department of Justice's current system of detaining children with their mothers after they have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border violates an 18-year-old court settlement.
The decision Friday by U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee in California is a victory for the immigrant rights lawyers who brought the case, but its immediate implications for detainees were not yet clear. The ruling upholds a tentative decision Gee made in April, and comes a week after the two sides told her that they failed to reach a new settlement agreement as she had requested.
The 1997 settlement at issue bars immigrant children from being held in unlicensed, secure facilities. Gee found that settlement covered all children in the custody of federal immigration officials, even those being held with a parent.
Peter Schey, executive director of the Center for Human Rights and one of the attorneys who brought the lawsuit, said federal officials "know they're in violation of the law."