Judge orders government to 'expeditiously' house migrant children

The government must place the minors "in facilities that are safe and sanitary," per the order.
Migrant tent, border, Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, March 28, 2024

A federal judge ordered the U.S. government to "expeditiously" house children who illegally enter the country, instead of allowing the children to remain in open-air locations along the border. 

The order issued late Wednesday evening by California-based U.S. District Court Judge Dolly Gee was mostly in favor of the attorneys representing the minors in the class-action lawsuit. 

The decision established that the Department of Homeland Security had legal custody of the children, who are thus entitled to rights and protections even before being formally processed.

Justice Department attorneys had argued that the children had not been formally apprehended so they were not in Homeland Security's custody, and thus, the agency did not need to provide such protections. 

The federal government must "expeditiously process" all minors in their custody, and place them "in facilities that are safe and sanitary and that are consistent with DHS's concern for the particular vulnerability of minors," Gee wrote. 

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection official told The New York Times he would not comment on the lawsuit, but he said that the immigration system was not equipped to handle the record numbers of illegal immigrants arriving at the border. He also said that the order did not include additional resources to allow the agency to more easily follow it.  

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