This week, we are celebrating a victory in the fight for the rights of immigrant children. Thanks to Judge Dolly Gee, a federal judge in Los Angeles, immigrant children will soon be released from U.S. detention centers. According to Cindy Carcamo of the Los AngelesTimes, the ruling, released Friday evening, said that children should not be held for more than 72 hours unless they are a significant flight risk or a danger to themselves and others. Judge Gee gave federal officials until October 23 to comply with her order. In her initial report, Judge Gee blasted federal officials, saying that children had been held in substandard conditions at the two Texas detention centers. She found “widespread and deplorable conditions in the holding cells of Border Patrol stations.” In addition, she wrote that federal officials had “failed to meet even the minimal standard” of “safe and sanitary” conditions at temporary holding cells. “It is astonishing that defendants have enacted a policy requiring such expensive infrastructure without more evidence to show that it would be compliant with an agreement that has been in effect for nearly 20 years,” Gee wrote. The agreement referenced in the ruling refers to a 1997 legal settlement — known as the Flores agreement — that set legal requirements for the housing of children seeking asylum or in the country illegally. In July, Gee found that the government had violated that agreement. She repeated that finding on Friday. The Obama administration is currently detaining an estimated 1,400 parents and children at three detention facilities, two in Texas and one in Pennsylvania. Peter Schey and Carlos Holguin, who launched the lawsuit against federal officials and have served as court-appointed lawyers for all immigrant children in federal custody since the 1997 settlement, said the judge’s order would help protect immigrant children “from lengthy and entirely senseless detention by the Department of Homeland Security in unsafe adult lockdown facilities run by private corporations raking in millions of dollars in profits.” Schey, who is also president of the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law in Los Angeles, said Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson should be ashamed of his detention policy that “over the past year has caused thousands of innocent children to needlessly suffer severe psychological and often physical harm.” Judge Gee’s order is undoubtedly a step in the right direction, but it still leaves open two key questions: Will the U.S. also release the parents — mostly mothers — of children who are in family detention? Or will families be separated? As advocates for the immigrant rights and human rights, we hope that this ruling will be interpreted to mean that parents will also be released from detention. If parents are detained while their children are released, this ruling will open up a host of additional problems. Who wants to see the government separate children from loving fathers and mothers who desperately want to remain united? Should any child or their responsible guardians be locked away in a prison-like setting while awaiting their immigration judgment? We think not. Not only is it problematic to keep parents locked up while their children are released, but detention is also unconscionable in cases in which immigrants qualify for legal asylum because they are looking for protection from dangerous conditions in their home countries. By detaining people in such cases, is our government violating the legal rights of families seeking asylum or refugee status in the U.S.? Immigration activists say the answer is yes. They say refugees who have already suffered immense trauma should not be forced into detention centers when – according to the law – they have done nothing wrong. Instead of detaining families, immigrants should be released on their own recognizance or on bond while their immigration cases are pending. We believe that detention is not the best way to handle immigrants who are awaiting judgment. Please join us in voicing your thoughts on this issue to your political representatives and presidential hopefuls. We must join together and raise our voices to protect those who don’t yet have enough power to protect themselves while in the United States. If you or a loved one needs the help of an immigration lawyer, please contact us today to schedule your consultation. We are here to listen to your story and give you the support you need to manifest your American dream. Article about upcoming webinar: Which one has a better chance of being granted political asylum in the United States: an armed member of a terrorist group or an armed member of a drug cartel? The answer will probably surprise you. Almost 20 years ago, an immigration judge made a decision which angered many, but which helped define the way immigrants and their lawyers should approach political asylum cases. In this case, a federal immigration judge in New York rejected the U.S. government’s effort to deport Brian Pearson, a former Irish Republican Army (IRA) bomber who had served 12 years in prison, saying that his 1975 attack on a police barracks was not a terrorist act. The judge in the case wrote that he made the distinction after considering the nature of the political situation in Northern Ireland at the time, as well as the “context, mode, target and purpose of the attack.” Ultimately, the judge decided that Pearson had a legitimate claim for asylum in the United States because he feared retaliation by Loyalist paramilitary groups if he returned to Ireland, and the Irish government would not offer him adequate protection. If you need to know more about how to build a solid case for political asylum in the United States, please join our upcoming webinar, “Are your clients good candidates for asylum in the U.S.?” In view of the escalating violence in countries like Venezuela, this online training will be geared towards attorneys in Latin America who need to know how they can help clients who are seeking asylum in the United States. In this webinar, participants will learn what makes a sloppy asylum case and how to avoid common mistakes that are made in such cases. Our highly experienced expert will define and explain asylum, giving examples from historical and personal experience, and will be available to answer participants’ questions during the training. About the Webinar Leader Margaret A. Donnelly is a Venezuelan immigrant who has been practicing immigration law in Dallas, Texas for over 35 years. With an excellent record of successes, she is an in-demand speaker at conferences and universities across the Americas. Margaret A. Donnelly received the Presidential Community Service Medal from the League of United Latin American Citizens of the United States (LULAC). She was nominated for the The Right Livelihood Foundation Award of Sweden, known as the alternative Nobel Peace Prize, for her community work. Because of her spotless reputation, she was appointed to the City of Dallas Ethics Advisory Commission where she served for several years. Additionally, she has served as a journalist specializing in immigration issues and is the acclaimed author of four books, three of which take place in and are based on the history and politics of Latin America. In this webinar, Ms. Donnelly will give participants the benefit of her broad experience and hard-won knowledge and wisdom of the U.S. immigration system. Webinar attendees will have the opportunity to gain a better understanding of how to formulate a good asylum case, empowering them to win more victories on behalf of clients. Webinar Details: Title: “Are your clients good candidates for asylum in the U.S.?” When: Tuesday, September 22 at 10 am CST How to Register: (need

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