Lawyers negotiating the future of the Obama administration's family detention program agreed late Friday to extend talks until June 12.
The Department of Justice is fighting to keep three family detention centers open after a California judge concluded in a preliminary ruling that detaining mothers with their children violates a 1997 agreement on child migration.
The case has large implications on the Obama administration's increased use of family detention centers. U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee previously refused the government’s request to modify the decades-old agreement, but had given the two sides until May 24 to come up with a new agreement that addressed the violations she found.
Three family detention centers in Berks County, Pa., and Karnes City and Dilley, Texas, currently house more than 750 mothers and children. The expanded use of family detention was in response to last year’s surge of unaccompanied children and families crossing the border.
More than 68,000 migrant families were apprehended. Many requested asylum, saying they were fleeing violence and poverty in Central America.
Lawyers for the mothers want the facilities closed and the detention of mothers and children banned. But administration attorneys argue they need greater flexibility to respond to unexpected surges of illegal migration.
In addition to the extension, the two sides requested seven extra days to file a joint status report with the court. That means an agreement is unlikely to be finalized until June 19.