Administration

Justice Dept. lawyer suggests 'toothbrush and soap' not required for detained migrant kids

A Justice Department lawyer suggested at a recent hearing that a toothbrush and soap were not necessarily required to fulfill sanitary conditions for detained migrant children laid out in a years-old agreement, The Associated Press reports.

According to the news agency, Sarah Fabian, a senior litigation counsel for the department, made the suggestion while discussing a 1997 settlement agreement that requires certain sanitary and safety standards be met for detained persons during a recent hearing at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The hearing was centered around the government's appeal of a ruling handed down by a federal judge in 2017 that found authorities violated the settlement after a group of detained migrant children reportedly said they were forced to sleep in inadequate conditions and not provided with sufficient food.

Fabian argued at the recent hearing that the agreement failed to provide specificity as to what items must be provided to ensure sanitary and safety conditions are met, including a toothbrush and soap. 

"There's fair reason to find those things may be part of safe and sanitary," she said, according to the publication. 

When pressed further by a judge about whether a toothbrush and soap should always be provided to detainees, Fabian reportedly said the items aren't necessarily required depending on the person's length of stay.

The government reportedly argues in its appeal that the 2017 ruling is based in "new substantive requirements" that aren't outlined in the decades-old agreement between activists and the U.S. government.

However, activists say the settlement's requirements that conditions in which detained migrant children be "safe and sanitary" extends to basic items maintaining personal hygiene, like a toothbrush and soap, according to The Associated Press.

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