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Judge Says Detaining Immigrant Children Violates Agreement

Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT
A detention facility in Karnes City, Texas, designed to house mothers and children aprehended at the border

A federal judge ruled Friday in favor of immigrant rights lawyers who have said the current detention of immigrant children violates a court settlement from 1997 known as the Flores vs Meese Agreement. U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee issued her decision in California.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has yet to announce how it will proceed. DHS recently changed the rules of how it releases mothers and children currently in detention. 

Those changes have lead to a precipitous decline in the number of immigrants held at family detention centers in Texas. Since this month's announcement by DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, more than 500 people were released from the family detention centers in Karnes City and Dilley.

Friday's decision is a victory for immigrant rights lawyers, but they are seeking a policy shift. They want DHS to stop the practice of detaining of immigrant children.

Lawyers have also argued that the detentions of immigrant children are in violation of international law.

Texas Standard reporter Joy Diaz has amassed a lengthy and highly recognized body of work in public media reporting. Prior to joining Texas Standard, Joy was a reporter with Austin NPR station KUT on and off since 2005. There, she covered city news and politics, education, healthcare and immigration.