Children who immigrate to the U.S. illegally alone must be given a court hearing before being detained, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.
A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said unanimously that unaccompanied minors, as children who migrate illegally are known, are entitled to bond hearings that determine whether they can be released until their case is heard in court.
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The judges said the federal government must follow the terms of a 1997 lawsuit settlement that required bond hearings for minors.
After that settlement, Congress passed two laws dealing with unaccompanied minors, including a 2002 law transferring responsibility for children who travel alone illegally to the Department of Health and Human Services until their court cases are heard.
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