August 24, 2015 STATEMENT — LIRS Calls on Obama Administration to Abide by Court Order to Stop Locking Up Immigrant Mothers and Children

Press Contact: Miji Bell
MBell@lirs.org; 410-230-2841

WASHINGTON, DC – Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) applauds the decision issued Friday by U.S. District Court Judge Dolly Gee ordering the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to release children apprehended at the border with a parent “without unnecessary delay”. Judge Gee’s order, which enforces the 1997 Flores Settlement Agreement, also instructs the government to cease using unlicensed or prison-like facilities, such as the family detention facilities in Dilley and Karnes, Texas, to house children. It further instructs the government to release parents apprehended with children, absent exceptional circumstances in unique cases.

Judge Gee’s ruling on Friday also orders the government to improve conditions and treatment of children held in Customs and Border Protection facilities. The government is required to comply with the ruling by October 23, 2015.

This most recent ruling follows a July 24th decision in which Judge Gee ruled that the Administration had violated the terms of the 1997 Flores Settlement Agreement that ensured protections of all children in immigration detention, including those held with a parent.

LIRS calls on the Obama Administration to begin implementing the order immediately and refrain from appealing or seeking to stay the order. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) should release detained mothers and children as quickly as possible in a safe manner.

“Lutherans, and people of faith in communities all across America, are heartened by the court’s repeated rulings against the government and are eager to welcome and embrace our new neighbors as they are released from family detention facilities. It has been deeply troubling to know that each day over a thousand children and mothers are being housed in jail-like settings while they await their day in court,” said Linda Hartke, LIRS President and CEO. “We pray that this ruling brings a shameful chapter in our country’s history to an end and that these families can begin to heal, experience the due process America is known for, and find the protection they sought by seeking refuge in our great nation.”

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