A woman protesting the detainment of undocumented immigrant children wears a jacket referencing Melania Trump during a demonstration outside a US border patrol processing centre in McAllen, Texas, on June 25 2018. Picture: REUTERS/LOREN ELLIOTT
A woman protesting the detainment of undocumented immigrant children wears a jacket referencing Melania Trump during a demonstration outside a US border patrol processing centre in McAllen, Texas, on June 25 2018. Picture: REUTERS/LOREN ELLIOTT

Los Angeles — A US federal judge on Monday rejected the Trump administration’s request to allow long-term detention of illegal immigrant children, a setback for President Donald Trump’s executive order to end the separation of immigrant families.

Los Angeles US District Court Judge Dolly Gee dismissed as "dubious" and "unconvincing" the US Justice Department’s arguments to modify a 1997 settlement that says children can be held in immigration detention for up to 20 days only.

The government made the request in June to allow it to keep underage migrants in detention alongside parents, after a public outcry over its policy of separating children from parents who entered the US illegally.

"It is apparent that the defendants’ application is a cynical attempt to shift responsibility to the judiciary for over 20 years of congressional inaction and ill-considered executive action that have led to the current stalemate," Gee, the daughter of Chinese immigrants, said in her ruling.

The government asked Gee to suspend the Flores settlement’s requirement that immigrant children be held only in facilities that met state child welfare licensing regulations, so as to allow whole families to be detained together.

Gee, who was appointed to the bench by former president Barack Obama, said the government had known for years that there was "no state licensing readily available for facilities that house both adults and children".

Reuters

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