Sarah Fabian, an attorney in the Department of Justice’s Office of Immigration Litigation, is in the national spotlight for arguing that the government could provide “safe and sanitary” conditions for detained migrant children without supplying items for proper hygiene or even a bed.
In a San Franciso courtroom on Tuesday, Fabian argued for the government in front of Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal judges, Wallace Tashima, William Fletcher, and Marsha Berzon. The government appealed a 2017 district court ruling that found the feds were in violation of the 1997 Flores settlement by not providing detained children access to soap, toothbrushes, and beds.
The Flores settlement, an agreement between immigration activist groups and the government, set immigration detention standards for unaccompanied children with a focus on facility conditions.
The consequences of the settlement “have been central to the debates over President Trump’s ‘zero-tolerance’ policy at the border and accusations of family separations,” according to the Center for Immigration Studies.
Senior U.S. Circuit Judge A. Wallace Tashima spent time in a U.S. internment camp for Japanese Americans during World War II when he was a child. He questioned Fabian’s logic.
“If you don’t have a toothbrush, if you don’t have soap, if you don’t have a blanket, it’s not safe and sanitary,” Tashima said. “Wouldn’t everybody agree with that?”
A Trump official tried to argue that detained children don’t need soap, toothbrushes, or beds to be ‘safe and sanitary’ while in Border Patrol custody pic.twitter.com/sRFPZsDbwy
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) June 21, 2019
Politicians and activists took to Twitter to slam the Trump Administration’s stance on “safe and sanitary” conditions:
Blankets, toothbrushes, soap, & sleep.
The Trump Admin believes these are not necessary to create a safe & sanitary environment for children. Such beliefs are cruel, inhumane, & inconsistent with the values of the vast majority of Americans.
We must be better than this. https://t.co/kYWnOOwvcU
— Elijah E. Cummings (@RepCummings) June 21, 2019