Appeals Court Rules Detained Migrant Children Should Get Soap, Sleep, Clean Water
Speaker 1: 00:00 Today we're going to start the show talking about immigration. First, California filed another lawsuit against the Trump administration this time over the administration's new public charge rule, which could block immigrants who use public assistance from becoming permanent residents. Here's California Attorney General Javier Bissera. Just this morning Speaker 2: 00:20 in California, the economic engine for the nation. We know that we cannot afford to sit back. While this administration targets programs that children and families across our state rely on and we know that welcoming and investing in all of our communities makes our state and our entire nation stronger. We will fight this unlawful rule every step of the way. Speaker 1: 00:44 California's legal action follows similar lawsuits filed by other states over the new public charge rule. The rule is set to go into effect in October. Meanwhile, a three judge panel of the Ninth U S Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday dismissed an appeal by the Trump administration and upheld a lower court ruling that says the government must provide food, clean water, and basic hygiene items to migrant children being held in detention. KPBS reporter Max Riverland Adler has been following the story and joins us now. Max. Welcome. Hi. So can you explain what the Trump administration was appealing and what this three judge panel ruled? Speaker 3: 01:24 The Trump administration was appealing a 2017 decision that basically modified a 1997 settlement that the government reached with advocates for migrant children in detention. This 2017 ruling essentially said that basically this agreement that the government had entered into included sanitation issues for children as well as their safety. So that would be blankets, toothbrushes, shampoo, soap, the government then spend the last two years appealing that decision all the way to the ninth circuit, basically saying, uh, because the judge didn't spell it out in the original settlement, we don't necessarily have to provide people the, again, people meaning children with these requirements. You know, again, we're talking about blankets and soap, these basic necessities, basic necessities. Yeah. Speaker 1: 02:13 So what was the government's defense for not having to provide these basic hygiene items? Speaker 3: 02:19 The government was basically saying, we didn't think that part of safety and sanitation included a warm blanket, not keeping people in freezing cold cells or you know, necessarily giving them clean drinking water because these weren't specifically enumerated in the original settlement. We don't have to provide them with it. In fact, I'm a judge of the judges on the panel of three judges that they faced back in June. A judge scolded them about this argument that they were making. Speaker 4: 02:47 It's within everybody's common understanding that, you know, if you don't have a toothbrush, if you don't have, so if you don't have a blanket, it's not safe in Santa Fe. Well, wouldn't everybody agree to that? You do you agree Speaker 5: 03:00 with that? Well, I think it's, I think those are, there's fair reason to find that those things may be part of savings are Speaker 1: 03:11 so what does the ruling mean for kids who are being held along the border? Speaker 3: 03:16 So the ruling doesn't necessarily mean much without any proper enforcement. So right now, given the influx of children along the border and the conditions they're being kept in border patrol, they are not meeting the obligations of the Flores settlement agreement. And so what the judge would like to do from the 2017 decision is send in people to inspect and determine and maybe, um, sanction the federal government for not providing these types of, um, requirements as per the agreement for the children. But currently they are not receiving any of these, you know, particulars that the judges enumerated. Um, at the moment. And, and we've seen this play out over the past few months. Basically the situation that these children are kept in, which would be freezing cold sells, 'em space blankets, these kind of tinfoil looking blankets, lack of access to clean water. And of course, you know, just the general fact that the lights are kept on 24 hours a day so the kids cannot sleep. Speaker 1: 04:16 The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco also ruled this morning that an injunction barring the Trump administration's latest asylum restrictions, uh, doesn't apply to the entire border. Can you explain what the judges said? Speaker 3: 04:28 So this applies to a rule that was announced last month that basically said if you are somebody looking to claim asylum and you enter the United States before and before then you traveled through a third country. So meaning you did not take a flight or you did not take a boat directly to the u s you went through Mexico or like a lot of asylum seekers. You went through several south and Central American countries before arriving in the u s you have to apply for asylum at one of the, in one of those countries. And not only that, that asylum process has to play out and can be completed before you're allowed to apply for asylum in the u s uh, late last month they were two separate on the same day decisions handed down by the federal courts. One in DC, one in California, the one in California decided that it was going to be, um, that, that this rule would need to not take effect. Speaker 3: 05:21 It would be a nationwide injunction and the one in DC said that this rule could move forward. Now, the question was whether that ruling in d c in California would be allowed to take effect nationwide. The government appealed and today the ninth circuit said that it would not be allowed to take effect nationwide. It would only be in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which is California, Arizona among other western states. So now you have a split circuit decision where basically the law will be different in a state like Texas, which is a different circuit court, then it will be in California. Speaker 1: 05:55 So then what are some of the practical implications of this ruling for migrants heading to the u s Mexico Speaker 3: 06:01 border? So if you are crossing the border today and a place like you know, Juarez and you are trying to enter into El Paso, you could be denied entry by an asylum officer at the port of entry because you didn't apply for asylum outside, uh, in another country that you transited through the same migrant. If they were to come to, to Quanta and try to cross into Santa CGO there, they would not have to meet that requirement. They wouldn't have had to apply for asylum. In a third country before entering, whether the government is going to apply this, we don't know because the asylum officers have not yet been given guidance, uh, after this new ruling. So I want to, we definitely want to pay attention to how this plays out. And then on top of that, there are a few kind of other legal moves that people trying to strike down the rule could make. But definitely what you have now is a separate asylum system in separate parts of the country. Speaker 1: 06:59 All right. I've been speaking with Max Rib Adler who's been covering this for KPBS Max, thank you so much for joining us. Thank you.