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Federal Court: Trump Admin Can’t Deny Soap & Toothpaste to Migrant Children

HeadlineAug 16, 2019

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected an attempt by the Trump administration to deny detained migrant children soap, toothpaste and beds. Justice Department attorney Sarah Fabian had argued that the government is not required to provide such necessities to children detained at the border. At a hearing in June, her claim was questioned by all three judges on the panel, including Judge Wallace Tashima.

Judge Wallace Tashima: “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. Wouldn’t everybody agree with that? Do you agree with that?”

Sarah Fabian: “Well, I think it’s — I think those are — there is fair reason to find that those things may be part of safe and sanitary.”

Judge Wallace Tashima: “Not 'may be.' 'Are' a part. What do you say, 'may be'? You mean there are circumstances when a person doesn’t need to have a toothbrush, toothpaste and soap for days?”

Sarah Fabian: “Well, I think, in CBP custody, there’s — it’s frequently intended to be much shorter-term, so it may be that for a shorter-term stay in CBP custody that some of those things may not be required.”

In their ruling on Thursday, the federal judges wrote, “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.”

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