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detention centers

The South Texas Family Residential Center is seen in Dilley, Texas, U.S., May 15, 2018. Picture taken May 15, 2018.
Callaghan O'Hare | REUTERS

This post has been updated. It was originally published on Sunday, July 5, at 2:55 p.m.

A federal judge in Los Angeles ruled that Immigration and Customs Enforcement has until mid-July to release migrant children in family detention centers, citing COVID-19 concerns at these facilities.

Shakira Najera Chilel feels like she's faced death before.

As a transgender woman, she dealt with violence and harassment back home in Guatemala and on her journey through Mexico to seek asylum in the U.S. She arrived last year and has been detained at the Eloy Detention Center in Arizona ever since.

"Now I find myself face-to-face with death again; that's how I feel," she said in a phone interview from inside the detention center. "Because you can either be a survivor or die from COVID-19."

Outside the Port Isabel Detention Center in Los Fresnos, Texas, in July 2018.
Reynaldo Leaños Jr. | Texas Public Radio

Detainees at the Port Isabel Detention Center in the Rio Grande Valley have been concerned about a potential COVID-19 outbreak at the facility for months, as the novel coronavirus continues to spread in Immigrant and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facilities across the country.


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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Updated at 3:34 p.m. ET

The Trump administration has announced it is ending a federal court agreement that limits how long migrant families with children can be detained.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan outlined the new policy Wednesday, which replaces the Flores settlement agreement.

That's been a longtime target of immigration hard-liners in the Trump administration, who contend the settlement has acted as a lure to families in Central America.

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NOEL KING, HOST:

Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan announced changes just this morning to how long government can detain migrant children. Here he is.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

A federal appeals court in California ruled that migrant children detained by U.S. immigration authorities must be provided with edible food, clean water, and basic hygiene items such as soap and toothbrushes, in accordance with a decades-old court order.

After months of reports of migrants being crammed into dangerously overcrowded facilities, acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan got some good news during a visit Thursday to one of the Border Patrol's busiest sectors.

"On May 31, we had over 5,300 people in custody here in El Paso sector. On June 15, that number was reduced down to 3,000. And on July 1, we had just close to 550 in custody," Chris Clem, deputy chief of the El Paso Border Patrol sector, told McAleenan in a briefing.

Updated at 6:40 p.m. ET Monday

The Trump administration's immigration policies have drawn condemnation, but increasingly the criticism has also turned to a web of companies that are part of the multibillion-dollar industry that runs detention facilities housing tens of thousands of migrants around the country.

Businesses that supply goods and services to support those detention centers face increasing public and political scrutiny from investors, employees and activists.

Laurie Cook Heffron, a licensed social worker and professor of Social Work at St. Edward’s University in Austin, is co-author of the study “Latina Immigrant Women and Children’s Well-Being and Access to Services after Detention” with licensed psychologist, Gabriela Hurtado and Josie Serrata of Casa de Esperanza: National Latin@ Network for Health Families and Communities.

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