A federal appeals court dismissed the Trump administration’s argument that its obligation to detain children in safe and sanitary conditions doesn’t necessarily entail providing them with soap, towels, showers, dry clothing, or toothbrushes.

The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco on Thursday threw out the Trump administration’s challenge to a judge’s order two years ago that minors held at border patrol stations in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas should be provided with personal hygiene items as well as with proper sleeping conditions, reasonably comfortable temperatures, and adequate food and drinking water. The government was attempting to rewrite a 1997 agreement regarding the treatment of children in immigration detention.


“Assuring that children eat enough edible food, drink clean water, are housed in hygienic facilities with sanitary bathrooms, have soap and toothpaste, and are not sleep-deprived are without doubt essential to the children’s safety,” the appeals panel said in its ruling. “The district court properly construed the agreement as requiring such conditions rather than allowing the government to decide whether to provide them.”

The long-running litigation over enforcement of the rule from 22 years ago comes as new allegations have emerged about squalid conditions at Customs and Border Protection facilities in Texas and Florida, where thousands of youngsters are housed.

Bloomberg News