Parents in ICE Custody Now Face an Awful Choice
The judge who previously ordered children in ICE custody to be released by July 27 now sees the ruling as “unenforceable.”
Earlier this summer, a California judge ruled that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement had to release all children in its custody by July 27 because of the spread of coronavirus within the agency's detention centers. Now, however, that same judge has said her original ruling is "unenforceable" because the conditions she laid out have not been met — ICE has not agree to release parents with their children, parents have not agreed to release their children, and another court has not ordered the release of the children.
Last week, Washington, D.C. District Court Judge James Boasberg denied a motion to release all parents and children together. “While the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted lives throughout our country, in few places has it proved more contagious than in congregate settings like prisons or detention centers,” Boasberg wrote in his decision. “Even assuming the conditions of Petitioners’ confinement violate their due-process rights, they have not yet clearly shown that they are entitled to the extraordinary remedy of blanket release from immigration detention.”
Now parents in detention centers have to decide whether to keep their children with them in confinement or to release them out to sponsors. “We’ve been calling this ‘Family Separation 2.0,'" immigration lawyer Bridget Cambria told TIME. “It’s a Sophie’s Choice, either you stay in a burning building with your child or you give your child away … it’s a false option.”
As COVID-19 cases continue to increase across the country, at least 3,700 cases of coronavirus have been diagnosed at ICE facilities, including one case at the South Texas Family Residential Center, according to ICE data. At least four employees at the Dilley facility have also tested positive. Earlier this month, a study found that coronavirus cases within ICE facilities could be 15 times as high as what the agency has reported.