A panel of judges on Thursday August 15 dismissed an appeal by the U.S. government that contended detained undocumented immigrant children might not require soap during short stints while in immigration detention center custody.

The U.S. government had argued that authorities weren't required to provide specific accommodations, such as soap. The appellate judges disagreed and dismissed the government's case. The judge panel ruled that the government must provide detained migrant children with basic hygiene supplies such as toothbrushes and sleeping mats.

The legal battle started after many young illegal immigrant children caught on the border said they had to sleep in cold, overcrowded cells and were given inadequate food and dirty water.

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"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 panel wrote.

Migrant detention facilities have been severely overcrowded since last year.

A United States government lawyer said the past legal precedents were vague and didn't necessarily require that a toothbrush and soap be provided to children during brief stays in custody.