World_news Detained children must have adequate food and hygiene items, court rules – Los Angeles Times

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In a case that dramatized the plight of children detained at the border, a federal appeals court Thursday upheld an order requiring immigration authorities to provide minors children with adequate food, water, bedding, toothbrushes and soap.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected an appeal by the Trump administration to an order by a Los Angeles federal judge who found the government was violating a 1997 settlement. The settlement required the government to provide detained minors with safe and sanitary conditions.

U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee issued the order in 2017 after finding that children in U.S. Customs and Border Protection custody did not have adequate food, clean water or basic hygiene items and were held in conditions that deprived them of sleep.

The settlement, known as the Flores agreement, required the children be given safe and sanitary quarters.

The government appealed, arguing the order changed the settlement agreement. The original settlement said nothing about allowing children to sleep or wash themselves with soap, the federal government said.

The 9th Circuit disagreed, saying the enumerated items ordered by the judge fell under the settlement’s requirement that children be kept in safe and sanitary conditions. Because Gee’s order did not modify the settlement, there was no basis for appeal, the court said.

“Assuring that children eat enough edible food, drink clean water, are housed in hygienic facilities with sanitary bathrooms, have soap and toothpaste, and are not sleep-deprived are without doubt essential to the children’s safety,” wrote Marsha S. Berzon, a Clinton appointee.

The case stirred nationwide outrage in June when a video of the 9th Circuit hearing on it went viral.

During the hearing, 9th Circuit Judge A. Wallace Tashima, a Clinton appointee, appeared incredulous that a lawyer for the federal government would not quickly concede that having soap and toothbrushes were a necessary requirement for sanitary conditions.

Gee issued the order after finding minors were “not receiving hot, edible or a sufficient number of meals during a given day,” lacked clean drinking water, clean bedding, toothbrushes, soap and towels, endured “sleep deprivation” as a result of cold temperatures, overcrowding, lack of proper bedding and constant lighting.

The case stemmed from a class action lawsuit filed by lawyers representing minors at the border. The settlement reached in the case took the form of a consent degree in 1997.

Last year, Gee appointed an independent monitor to examine the conditions at Customs and Border Protection detention facilities along the border in the Rio Grande valley in Texas.

Attorneys who had visited Border Patrol stations, ports of entry and family detention centers filed a scathing report in July, 2018, describing inhumane conditions there.

The report contained interviews with detainees who described sleeping on concrete, receiving only three mattresses for 18 people, toilets without doors and without soap or paper towels, frozen sandwiches and freezing cells.

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