The clock is ticking for the federal government to open family detention center doors and release immigrant children who are seeking asylum. In her recent ruling in Jenny Lisette Flores v. Loretta E. Lynch, U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee ordered the government to release detained children by October 23, 2015. 

Gee was ruling on a motion for reconsideration, in which the government asked her to rethink her previous ruling on the case. She wrote that the request did not actually hold up to the standard for reconsideration and did not introduce any new information that could change the outcome of the case, but instead was a “rehash” of their argument that shutting down family detention would open the nation to an influx of children from Central America. The case stems from a 1997 settlement of a case that set the nation’s legal requirements for housing children that it deems are in the country illegally.

In the end, Gee said the government should not hold children for longer than 72 hours unless it has proof that they are dangerous to themselves or others, or at high risk for flight. She also said that the goal should be “family reunification” and so they should be released with their parents as a first resort.

The Department of Homeland Security released a general statement that said it will “continue to screen family members’ claims as expeditiously as possible” and “consider available options with the Department of Justice.” It went on to say: “While we continue to disagree with the court’s ultimate conclusion, we note that the court has clarified its original order to permit the government to process families apprehended at the border at family residential facilities consistent with congressionally provided authority.”

The government has previously estimated that there are 1,400 parents and children housed in family detention centers in Pennsylvania and Texas.

(H/t Los Angeles Times)