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Trump Admin Says It's Not Required to Provide Migrant Children Soap, Toothbrushes and Sleeping Accommodations
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=51015"><span class="small">Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle</span></a>   
Thursday, 20 June 2019 13:19

Egelko writes: "The Trump administration's defense of conditions at its shelters for immigrant minors - it argues it is not legally required to provide all of them with such items as soap, toothbrushes and sleeping accommodations - drew an incredulous response from federal appeals court judges Tuesday at a hearing in San Francisco."

Migrants inside a makeshift detention center in Texas. (photo: Sergio Flores/Getty Images)
Migrants inside a makeshift detention center in Texas. (photo: Sergio Flores/Getty Images)


Trump Admin Says It's Not Required to Provide Migrant Children Soap, Toothbrushes and Sleeping Accommodations

By Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle

20 June 19

 

he Trump administration’s defense of conditions at its shelters for immigrant minors — it argues it is not legally required to provide all of them with such items as soap, toothbrushes and sleeping accommodations — drew an incredulous response from federal appeals court judges Tuesday at a hearing in San Francisco.

The administration is appealing a federal judge’s June 2017 ruling that immigration officials were violating a 1997 court settlement requiring unaccompanied minors in federal custody to be kept in safe and sanitary conditions before being released to relatives or sponsors as promptly as possible. U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee of Los Angeles found that youths held in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas were being denied basic necessities and appointed a monitor to oversee compliance.

The administration denied violating the settlement and argued in court papers that nothing in the 1997 agreement required officials “to provide minors, in all situations, with sleeping accommodations, toothbrushes, toothpaste, showers, soap, towels and dry clothes,” as long as the facilities were safe and sanitary. A panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was clearly unconvinced.

“It’s within everybody’s common understanding that if you don’t have a toothbrush, you don’t have soap, you don’t have a blanket, those are not safe and sanitary,” Judge A. Wallace Tashima told Justice Department lawyer Sarah Fabian.

“Those things may be part of ‘safe and sanitary,’” depending on the length of a minor’s confinement, Fabian replied. But she said Gee had “expanded the terms of the agreement” by imposing new conditions.

“You’re really going to stand up and tell us that not being able to sleep isn’t a question of safe and sanitary conditions?” asked a second judge, Marsha Berzon.

Judge William Fletcher, the third panel member, said Gee found evidence that minors were kept overnight in crowded, chilly rooms, sleeping on concrete floors with aluminum-foil blankets with the lights kept on all night.

“No one would argue that this is safe and sanitary,” Fletcher said.

Fabian didn’t disagree, but contended the settlement gave immigration officials some leeway in housing minors. There are “challenges in interpreting a very old agreement” that was reached before the current Department of Homeland Security and its immigration agencies were even established, she said.

Plaintiffs lawyer Peter Schey of the nonprofit Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law said court enforcement of the agreement was essential.

“Once a month a kid is dying in (U.S. Customs and Border Protection) custody,” he said.

The court heard an hour of arguments and will rule at a later date.

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Last Updated on Thursday, 20 June 2019 14:00
 

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+5 # Farafalla 2019-06-20 23:57
What is it going to take for people in this country to push back on what Trump is doing to migrants? Cattle cars?
 
 
+5 # Salburger 2019-06-21 02:11
Not Dachau, but nonetheless concentration camp conditions for children.
 
 
+4 # janie1893 2019-06-21 04:15
We cant have clean, cute, good-looking kids seeking asylum!! We might think we should let them come in. If they are scruffy and dirty, pathetic and half-sick, it is easier to isolate them, fear them and eventually send them back across the border where we know their conditions will deteriorate further. But we wont have to see them so we can forget about them!!
 
 
+4 # wilhelmscream 2019-06-21 05:20
That’s cruel and unusual punishment; 8th Amendment prohibits such punishment
 
 
+4 # Texas Aggie 2019-06-21 08:59
When a lawyer makes an argument that ridiculous, she needs to be charged with contempt of court for implying that the judges are so stupid that they can't see how ridiculous her argument is.
 
 
+1 # chapdrum 2019-06-21 21:49
Tell us again, about the "sanctity of life."