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California Leads Lawsuit Against Trump Administration Efforts to Keep Migrant Kids Locked Up Indefinitely

— August 27, 2019

The lawsuit is but one of 57 California has led against the Trump administration in the past three years.

California and a coalition of other states are leading a lawsuit against the Trump administration and its decision to keep migrant children locked up indefinitely.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, is co-led by Massachusetts. Another 17 states are aboard the effort, with all eyes turned to the White House. When the suit was announced Monday by California Gov. Gavin Newsom, state Attorney General Xavier Becerra blasted the administration for its moral turpitude.

“No child deserves to be left in conditions inappropriate and harmful for their age,” Becerra said in a statement. “The actions by this administration are not just morally reprehensible, they’re illegal. Children don’t become subhuman simply because they are migrants.”

The push-back follows the Trump administration’s attempts to overhaul the Flores Settlement. Taking its name from a decades-old court case fought by a Salvadoran migrant, the Flores agreement sets requirements for the treatment of under-age migrants held in federal custody. Among other stipulations, it recommends that the government release migrant children who’ve been held for 20 days into the care of family members, guardians or authorized sponsors.

However, the Trump administration’s new edict suggests that underage detainees be held in custody with their parents until immigration proceedings are complete—something that can take months, if not even longer. The Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency have opined that the move allows families to stay united.

California State Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s office is playing a critical role in the lawsuit. Image via Office of Attorney General Xavier Becerra/Wikimedia Commons. Listed as public domain.

Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan has opined that Flores—sometimes called ‘catch and release’ by Republicans—encourages illegal immigration, especially from the violence-stricken nations of Central America.

“The driving factor for this crisis is weakness in our legal framework for immigration,” McAleenan said. “This single settlement has substantially caused, and continues to fuel, the current family unit crisis […] until today.”

Critics, of course, have blasted the rule as yet another attempt to use children as a means of deterring migration. But that’s not how Trump sees it.

“Very much I have the children on my mind,” the president told reporters Monday. “It bothers me very greatly.

“When you see they can’t get into the United States, they won’t come. And many people will be saved. Many women’s lives will not be destroyed.”

Newsom, whose endorsed numerous lawsuit against the Trump administration, said the president’s attempts to cast his revocation of Flores as in favor of children is “laughable and ludicrous.”

“The policies of this administration are exacerbating the early childhood trauma of young children, seven, by the way, who have lost their lives,” he said.

As The Los Angeles Times reports, California has repeatedly challenged the president’s attempts to enact and enforce immigration policy. The state has filed no fewer than 57 legal challenges against the Trump administration—of the total, 13 were related to immigration laws, requirements and mandates.

“If you go through the list, we’re reacting to this unprecedented assault on the rule of law and due process in this country,” Newsom said.


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