Judge to appoint independent monitor to examine conditions for detained migrant children

Judge to appoint independent monitor to examine conditions for detained migrant children
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A federal judge on Friday said she will appoint a special monitor to oversee conditions for detained migrant children following claims of inhumane treatment from lawyers representing those separated at the border.

U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee said in a status hearing that the independent monitor will report to her directly on the conditions in Customs and Border Protection detention facilities in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas.

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"There continue to be persistent problems,” Gee said, according to CNN. "There seems to be disconnect between what both sides see at these facilities."

The decision comes in response to complaints that the Trump administration is not adhering to the Flores settlement, which outlines standards of care for immigrant children detained by the U.S.

The accusations of ill treatment that the monitor will investigate directly were filed in a June 2017 motion, but lawyers have called the alleged mistreatment “pervasive” in detention centers along the border.

Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law President Peter Schey told reporters he plans to file a motion seeking the expansion of the monitor’s jurisdiction to include all detention centers along the border.

“One of the persistent problems that we see is the inhumane treatment of children in border patrol facilities where they might be detained for anywhere from three to six days," Schey said. "This includes inadequate food. It includes enforced dehydration, it includes sleep deprivation because children do not have access to sleeping mats."

Treatment of children in detention centers has been a national focus amid the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, which resulted in thousands of children being separated from their parents while the adults face prosecution for illegally crossing the border.

In a separate hearing on Friday, a federal judge applauded the government for reuniting 1,800 children with their families, but an additional 711 children remain in U.S. custody after it was determined their parents are either not eligible for reunification or are unavailable. Many of those parents were deported without their children.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said that the agency "maintains the highest standards [of] care for individuals in our custody."

"DHS facilities undergo constant unannounced inspections by outside groups, the Department’s Inspector General and court ordered monitors," she said. "DHS take our responsibilities extremely seriously and perform them professionally and humanely.” 

--This report was updated on July 29 at 10:47 a.m.