A United States District Court Federal Judge issued a tentative ruling which finds that the Department of Homeland Security’s policy of housing mothers and children in family detention is in violation of an 18 year-old court settlement. Specifically, the settlement in question pertains to the detention of migrant children and mandates that minor children should be placed in the custody of a family member or legal guardian when at all possible. The settlement also dictates that if a minor child is held in detention, they should be housed in the least restrictive conditions possible.
The federal judge ruled that mothers and children cannot be detained in unlicensed detention facilities such as the Karnes Family Detention Facility and the Dilley Facility in Texas – two of four large family detention facilities in the United States. The judge commented that it is inappropriate to detain mothers and children without extenuating circumstances such as an existing safety concern or a flight risk. At this point the tentative ruling has just been released to attorneys who are party to the case who will begin to negotiate a settlement. If a settlement cannot be reached, the Department of Homeland Security may be forced to restructure or even abandon their family detention policy.