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Reports of Trump Administration unlawfully detaining and deporting unaccompanied minor asylum-seekers

  1. Date Announced

    Jan. 24, 2019

    At least four lawsuits, including a class action, allege that ORR is working in concert with ICE to prevent unaccompanied minors from being sponsored by undocumented family members who are in the U.S. The allegations are based on a leaked memo from the Trump administration. ICE will reportedly deport sponsors or other family members who seek to sponsor the unaccompanied minor. Allegations include that ORR is holding minors in below-standard facilities and detaining minors until they turn 18 and can be deported. [ID #370]

    View Policy Document
  2. Effective Date of Change

    Jan. 24, 2019
  3. Subsequent Action

    January 24, 2019

    The first three claims relate to the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s procedures regarding submission, review, and approval of family reunification applications. The plaintiffs claim that these procedures violated the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, 8 U.S.C. § 1232, that they violate the plaintiffs’ substantive due process rights, and that they violate procedural due process. The next two claims allege that ORR’s policy of requesting biological and biometric information from family members seeking reunification violate the Administrative Procedure Act for failure to comply with notice-and-comment rulemaking and for being arbitrary and capricious. Finally, the plaintiffs brought a claim under 28 U.S.C. 2241(c) seeking habeas relief.

    J.A.C.M. v Hayes, 1:18-CV-903-LMB, Third Amended Class Action Complaint
  4. Subsequent Action

    January 24, 2019

    The lawsuit seeks to represent a class of more than one thousand children in government custody whose release is contingent on the fingerprint-based background check of their sponsor or the sponsor’s household members. The length of time that children spend in government custody has spiked precipitously in recent months, leading to overcrowded shelters. To accommodate the swelling population, the agency is now transferring hundreds of children, many of whose releases are pending the results of fingerprint checks, from shelters around the country to a “tent city” in the Texas desert that is not licensed by state child welfare authorities.

    DUCHITANGA, v Lloyd, 1:18-cv-10332, Class Complaint
  5. Subsequent Action

    January 24, 2019

    Named plaintiffs are several children in ORR custody (in facilities in Texas, California, New York, and Michigan) and two nonprofit organizations, the San Fernando Valley Refugee Children Center, Inc. and the Unaccompanied Central American Refugee Empowerment. The plaintiffs alleged that ORR confines unaccompanied alien children in residential treatment centers (RTCs) without a meaningful opportunity to challenge allegations that they are dangerous or pose a flight risk or that their parents or other custodians are unfit to care for them. The complaint also states that the children are detained in conditions where they are administered psychotropic medication for weeks, months, or longer without parental consent or any other procedural safeguards. Several children were reportedly prescribed medications that increase suicidality, intentional self harm, pain, nausea, and insomnia. One of the children alleged they were assaulted by staff on multiple occasions, including with pepper spray.

    Lucas R. v Azar; 2:18-CV-05741, Complaint for Injunctive Relief, Declaratory Relief, and Nominal Damages
  6. Subsequent Action

    January 24, 2019

    Plaintiffs are immigrant teenagers held in the custody of Defendant U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). They bring this action on behalf of themselves and other similarly situated immigrant teenagers, because ICE has failed to consider them for placement in “the least restrictive setting available” and to provide them with meaningful alternatives to detention, as required by amendments to the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA).

    **Litigation is listed for informational purposes and is not comprehensive. For the current status of legal challenges, check other sources.**

    Garcia Ramirez v ICE, 1:18-cv-00508, Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief

Commentary

Trump admin weighed targeting migrant families, speeding up deportation of children

In the draft memo, called "Policy Options to Respond to Border Surge of Illegal Immigration" and dated Dec. 16, 2017, officials from the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security lay out a blueprint of options, some of which were later implemented and others that have not yet been put into effect.

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NPR: Lawsuits allege 'grave harm' to immigrant children in detention

In mid-December [2018], the population of migrant children was approaching 15,000 and ORR was running out of bed space in its network of 130 shelters. When the contractor of the largest shelter, the desert tent camp in Tornillo, Texas, refused to extend his contract, ORR made an abrupt policy change that streamlined how it screens sponsors.

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