Judge Dolly Gee, a U.S. District Court judge, is making headlines after turning down President Donald Trump’s request to make changes to a decades-old legal settlement that would allow long-term detention of children who entered the U.S. illegally with their parents, Politico reports.
According to Politico, Gee’s order states that some immigrant families could be “detained together if the parents’ consent, but suggests that without that consent, immigration authorities must release the children.”
Here’s what you need to know about Judge Dolly Gee:
1. Gee’s Mother, a Garment Worker, Never Taught Gee to Sew Because She Didn’t Want Her Daughter to Have to “Stitch Clothes for a Living”
Gee was born in Hawthorne, California and is the daughter of Cantonese immigrants from “rural China,” according to Wikipedia. Gee’s father was a World War II veteran and an aerospace engineer who worked on projects like the space shuttle and the Apollo missions. Her mother was a garment worker.
According to the New York Times, during her confirmation hearing in 2009, Barbara Boxer, then a senator from California, said that Judge Gee’s mother, “was a garment worker who never taught Dolly to sew because she did not want her daughter to have to stitch clothes for a living.”
Gee attended school at the University of California, Los Angeles and received her Bachelors of Arts in 1981. She continued her schooling and earned a Juris Doctor from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law in 1984. She served as a law clerk for Judge Milton Schwartz of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California from 1984 to 1986, according to Wikipedia.
2. Gee is Known as a “Compassionate”Advocate for Immigrants, Minorities & the Working Class, Often Doing Pro Bono Work to Assist the Needy
Gee is known as an advocate for the underdog — immigrants, minorities and the working class, according to the New York Times.
“She’s compassionate,” said Henry M. Willis, a partner at Judge Gee’s former Los Angeles law firm, Schwartz, Steinsapir, Dohrman & Sommers.“She’s rigorous in the law.”
Gee, 58, had a long career in private practice before joining the bench, according to the New York Times. While living in Los Angeles, she became involved in many social causes, actively working with activists to “end affirmative action, and working pro bono to help victims of the civil unrest in 1992 after the beating of Rodney King by the police,” the New York Times reports.
3. Gee is the First Chinese American Woman to Serve as an Article III Judge in U.S. History
In 1999, former president Bill Clinton nominated Gee as a judge on the United States District Court for the Central District of Columbia to replace Judge John G. Davies. However, during that time Republicans had control of the U.S. Senate, and Gee’s nomination was “languished,” despite her meeting with Clinton in 2000.
“Gee never received a hearing before the Republican-controlled United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary, and her nomination was returned to Clinton at the end of his presidency. President George W. Bush later successfully nominated John F. Walter to the seat to which Gee had been nominated,” Wikipedia reports.
In 2009, former president Barack Obama nominated Gee to a seat on the United States District Court for the Central District of California. She was later referred to the full Senate, who unanimously confirmed Gee on December 24, 2009.
Three months later, Gee was inducted to California’s branch of the U.S. District Court, which officially made her the first Chinese American woman to serve as an Article III Judge in U.S. history, according to Wikipedia.
4. Gee Says the Trump Administration is Seeking to “Light a Match” to the Flores Agreement & Denied a Request to Extend Holds on Children in Detention Centers
Gee, who is based out of Los Angeles, dismissed the Trump administrations legal argument to get out of the Flores consent decree that was agreed upon back in 1997, which dictated that children in immigration detention centers cannot be held for more than 20 days.
“Defendants seek to light a match to the Flores Agreement and ask this Court to upend the parties’ agreement by judicial fiat,” wrote Gee. “It is apparent that Defendants’ Application is a cynical attempt…to shift responsibility to the Judiciary for over 20 years of Congressional inaction and ill-considered Executive action that have led to the current stalemate.”
Last year, Gee was also was also critical of family detentions, calling their conditions “deplorable and unsanitary,” and affirmed that Flores prohibits the lengthy detentions of children. She also took a stance against Trump’s restrictions on immigration from Muslim countries, ordering an Iranian man with a valid visa who was being sent to Dubai to be brought back, according to the New York Times.
5. Gee Originally Signed the Decision in the Flores V. Reno Case & Refused the Request to Modify the Ruling in the Agreement
Last month, the Justice Department attempted to modify the Flores v. Reno agreement, stating they were “bound by a prohibition that restricted the detention of immigrant children to 20 days,” according to CNN. The department’s lawyers wanted Gee to modify the ruling to give the president’s administration “maximum flexibility in handling family units.” Gee originally signed the operative decision in the case. Gee refused.
The Trump administration’s goal was to detain the parents of immigrant children until the end of criminal proceedings and beyond, specifically through the end of asylum proceedings. “The administration also wanted relief from provisions in the settlement agreement dictating the type of licensed facilities where minors may be held,” CNN reports.