U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee said federal authorities had violated key provisions of an 18-year-old court settlement that put restrictions on the detention of migrant children.
The ruling, released late Friday, is another blow to President Obama’s immigration policies and leaves questions about what the U.S. will do with the large number of children and parents who crossed the border from Latin America last year.
The Obama administration is detaining an estimated 1,700 parents and children at three detention facilities, two in Texas and one in Pennsylvania.
In her 25-page ruling, Gee blasted federal officials, saying that children had been held in substandard conditions at the two Texas detention centers. She found “widespread and deplorable conditions in the holding cells of Border Patrol stations.” In addition, she wrote that federal officials “failed to meet even the minimal standard” of “safe and sanitary” conditions at temporary holding cells.
“It is astonishing that defendants have enacted a policy requiring such expensive infrastructure without more evidence to show that it would be compliant with an agreement that has been in effect for nearly 20 years,” Gee wrote. Gee gave the government until Aug. 3 to explain why an order she plans to issue should not be implemented within 90 days.