Feds agree to no longer house migrant children at South Texas hotel, civil rights group says

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[July 28, 2020] A civil rights group that sued the government to stop the housing of migrant children at a border hotel in South Texas prior to their expulsion from this hot spot for COVID-19 cases, says the Department of Homeland Security has agreed to end the practice.

The nonprofit group Texas Civil Rights Project, which late Friday sued the federal government in a Washington, D.C., court, said the lawsuit has been settled, and that federal officials have agreed not to hold migrant children at the Hampton Inn & Suites Hotel in McAllen. Instead, the children will be sent to a facility sanctioned by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the agency put in charge of overseeing unaccompanied minor children in the United States.

On Tuesday, Efrén Olivares, racial and economic justice program director for the Texas Civil Rights Project, told Border Report that the agreement was reached Sunday.

“The government agreed to take all the children at that facility to an ORR shelter,” Olivares said Monday night in a Facebook live event. “Those facilities are in charge of finding a relative in the United States and with following their procedures in releasing children. … The government agreed to do that and that is all we are asking really: Do not expel them pursuant to this order, using the pandemic as an excuse because the government is really not following any healthcare procedures to safeguard the well being of these families.”

The lawsuit claimed that since March, under Title 42 Process, the Trump administration has been using the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to expel unaccompanied minor migrant children and migrant families without any due process or legal proceedings as an “unprecedented new system for restricting immigration along the Canadian and Mexican borders in the name of public health.” The nonprofit organizations sued on behalf of dozens of “unnamed children” who were slated for expulsion and held at the hotel. Once a migrant is expelled from the United States, they have no right to U.S. immigration proceedings, hearings or appeals.

“The children should have been given shelter in children’s facilities until they could be released to family members or suitable sponsors in the United States, and are entitled to a full hearing, and appeals, to determine their right to humanitarian protection in the United States,” the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia read.

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