What’s another day at the White House if at least one lawsuit isn’t filed? The weekend? Maybe. It seems almost daily a new lawsuit is being filed against the Trump administration, and today was no exception.
On Friday, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Northern California, and Cooley LLP sued Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) for illegally detaining teens.
The suit alleges that the aforementioned departments of the federal government are using “unsubstantiated claims of gang affiliation” to illegally detain these teens “in jail-like facilities” in California. Furthermore, it charges that the federal government is attempting to detain and deport children based on unreliable claims of gang affiliation.
According to the report from the ACLU, the plaintiffs were taken to detention facilities without notice and without “a chance to challenge the charges against them.” Stephen Kang, an attorney with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project attempted to explain:
‘We’re talking about teens who were picked up for play-fighting with a friend, or for showing pride in their home country of El Salvador. The Office of Refugee Resettlement is accepting wholesale that young immigrants should be kept behind bars because of what they look like or where they come from.’
A seventeen-year-old plaintiff told the ACLU:
‘The police and immigration agents are arresting kids because they think they look like gang members, but youth are the future of this country and they have a lot to offer. Don’t judge people by their appearance.’
ORR has legal obligations to ensure children who are brought into the United States alone are put under the care of either family or a caregiver. The suit also alleges that ICE and ORR are in violation of this requirement by re-arresting children who’ve already been released.
A partner at Cooley LLP, Martin Schenker, told the ACLU:
‘This case centers on the denial of fundamental protections that are at the core of our legal system, and that apply to everyone, regardless of immigration status. Children are being denied access to their family and legal counsel and incarcerated in remote locations based on unreliable and unsubstantiated allegations, which amounts to a wholly unacceptable breach of their statutory and constitutional rights.’
The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court of Northern California. The plaintiffs want to be returned to their parents’ custody and for the federal government to acknowledge the violation of their rights under the Constitution, federal immigration law, and a consent decree for the treatment of immigrant children.
Senior staff attorney for the ACLU of Northern California, William S. Freeman, put things into clear perspective by saying:
‘The government rightly reunited these kids with their families years ago. They have dreams and legal claims to remain in the United States, but they’ve been swept up by an administration that prioritizes deportations over truth and justice.’
For more information and to read the full report from the American Civil Liberties Union, click this link.
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