In the Flores v. Barr case, Judge Dolly Gee issued a short 7-page order on Friday June 26, 2020 that blasted the government. Those who were assigned to do investigations and file reports did and ICE and ORR had reduced the numbers in detention to 124 for ICE and 528 for ORR. However the judge pointed out that as of June 25, 11 people had tested positive for COVID at Karnes and 4 employees at Dilly. In addition, many mistakes or omissions were found in the reports from ORR and ICE such as the fingerprint waiver process taking too long and having wrong conclusions about some minors because they don’t know who is who.
But the reports of the independent monitor and the medical doctor doomed ICE and ORR as they reported that the CDC guidelines were not being followed, the documents had errors, they had wrong information about which families were in litigation, they claimed every child did not have a sponsor when they did, and they were still not in compliance with three orders from the previous round. The judge said ICE and ORR could respond by July 2 but it was clear such response would be a waste of time.
Because ICE and ORR were not following CDC guidance regarding masking and social distancing they were ordered to release every minor there more than 20 days to a sponsor or with their parents with all deliberate speed – a phrase fraught with meaning.
They must also urgently implement the CDC protocols “rather than hiding behind unevenly implemented written protocols.” In other words ICE and ORR are doing what the ADCRR does – simply points to the fact that they have such protocols not that they follow them. Gee ordered them to social distance, do enhanced testing, and enforce masks.
Reports dates were established i.e. July 1 for juvenile coordinators annual report, July 24 for interim reports covering the April and May topics, explain why there is a delay in fingerprinting waivers and home studies and fix it. They are also to give sworn testimony in detail for each child not moved. The judge emphasized that it should be sworn under penalty of perjury – clearly indicating ICE and ORR cannot be believed.
She ordered them to give specific reasons for not releasing three named children and stated clearly that no children who aged out are to be sent to adult facilities. Joint status reports are due on July 8 and July 31 and the doctor and independent monitor are to continue their work. The next hearing is August 7.
This is an example of why we need an independent judiciary, not one that toadies to the administration. The government agencies seem unable and unwilling to follow the law. But the concept of an independent judiciary, vital for the Rule of Law, has come under severe strain in this administration, this Senate, and this attorney general. We must fight back.