Judge: Illegal Immigrants Must Be Released Starting October 24

Eric Gay/AP
AP File Photo/Eric Gay

On Friday, a federal judge in Central California ruled that the 1,800 illegal immigrants being held in detention centers in Dilley and Karnes City, Texas, and Berks County, Pennsylvania, must be released starting October 24.

U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee’s 15-page ruling stated that the government will have up to 20 days after October 24 to finish releasing the illegal immigrants, who are waiting for their asylum hearings. Gee rebuffed the Department of Justice’s request to reverse her July 24 ruling, in which she argued that the government’s detention policy violated an 18-year-old court settlement revolving around the detention of migrant children. Gee was doubling down on her confidential draft ruling issued on April 24. That draft referenced the January 27, 1997, agreement, and noted that the defendant’s (the federal government) motion to amend the 1997 agreement was denied.

In her ruling issued Friday, Gee said of the DOJ’s request to reverse her July ruling, “Defendants submitted a 51-page brief that served primarily as a vehicle for a thinly-veiled motion for reconsideration, rehashing many of the same arguments which the Court previously rejected.”

The Department of Homeland Security is expected to appeal Friday’s ruling. The 20-day window for releasing the immigrants represented a minor victory, as they had feared Gee would order them to release all the illegal immigrants in a five-day window period. Instead, Gee said if extenuating circumstances similar to the 2014 flood of Central American immigrants occurred, the government could extend the window for release to 20 days.

Some advocates for illegal immigrants expressed dissatisfaction with Gee’s ruling, asserting she could have been stricter. Jonathan Ryan, executive director of the Texas-based Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, stated, “Despite finding that the so-called family detention centers run by ICE to be both unsanitary and unfit for children, Judge Gee would still permit the government to jail children in private prisons for nearly three weeks.”


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