A federal judge in Los Angeles named an independent monitor Friday to oversee conditions for children being held in immigration custody.
The move came after U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee found that the federal government was not complying with the Flores Settlement Agreement, a federal consent decree that sets standards for the care and treatment of migrant children.
Gee named former U.S. Attorney Andrea Sheridan Ordin to monitor compliance with the court's orders. Ordin is now empowered to conduct unannounced inspections of shelters and detention centers, where the court found some minors have been subject to frigid and unsanitary conditions, drugged without consent and denied information about legal services.
Ordin was appointed under the 1997 consent decree. It specifies that children in immigration custody must be held in the least restrictive setting, in licensed child-care facilities overseen by the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement, known as ORR. The consent decree also requires that children be released to a relative or sponsor whenever possible.
Courts have ruled that the Flores agreement applies to children apprehended with a parent as well as unaccompanied migrant children or those forcibly separated from parents. Courts have also said that children in immigration custody are entitled to a hearing to consider their release.