Take COVID Seriously—Except at the Border?

Press Releases

November 2, 2020

IRLI argues that decades-old consent decree should not override public health measures

WASHINGTON—The Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) has filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in a case dating from the 1990s in which the Clinton administration, by entering a consent decree with plaintiffs, bound the federal government to certain rules when it came to housing illegal alien minors. Recently, a California federal district court, in the name of this decree, enjoined the Trump administration from administering Centers for Disease Control (CDC) quarantine directives by housing minors in hotels instead of licensed detention facilities. IRLI’s brief is in support of the appeal of this injunction.

As the government points out, in this quarantine program, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is acting at the behest of the CDC, not on its own behalf, and not under the laws the consent decree was issued under. In its brief, IRLI adds the important point that the lower court, when it put the burden on DHS to prove that housing illegal alien minors in hotels was safer than transferring them immediately to more-crowded licensed detention centers, impermissibly shifted the burden of proof from the plaintiffs to the government.

“No one made governors issuing lockdown orders to American citizens prove that the orders made Americans safer,” said Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of IRLI. “But suddenly, because the border is involved, the government has to prove that hotels—which other people pay to stay in—are safer places to house illegal alien minors than crowded detention facilities. Only at the border does the government have this burden placed on it to justify a serious response to the pandemic. We hope the Ninth Circuit sees the error of this double standard and lets the administration get on with protecting both the border and the health of Americans.”

The case is Flores v. Barr, No. 20-55951 (Ninth Circuit).

For additional information, contact: Brian Lonergan • 202-232-5590 • blonergan@irli.org

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