Press Release: We Sued The Federal Government On Behalf Of Immigrant Children

Legal Aid Brings Emergency Lawsuit Against Federal Government Over Policy That Effectively Denies Migrant Children In NYS The Ability To Apply For Asylum And Other Humanitarian Relief

 PHOTO: JANNIS WERNER

PHOTO: JANNIS WERNER

LITIGATION SEEKS IMMEDIATE COURT ORDER AFFORDING EACH LEGAL AID CLIENT A 48-HOUR OPPORTUNITY TO EXPLORE POSSIBLE IMMIGRATION RELIEF WITH THEIR PARENTS AND THEIR ATTORNEY

The Legal Aid Society filed a class action lawsuit late on July 16 in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) against the Federal government on behalf of migrant children who were separated from their parents by the Trump administration and detained in New York State. The lawsuit seeks to ensure that the children are made aware of their reunification plan and are afforded an opportunity to consult with their parents and lawyers to explore asylum and other forms of relief.

On Sunday, Legal Aid attorneys learned of the Federal government’s imminent plans to transfer two young clients to Port Isabel Detention Center, a facility unlicensed to care for children in Los Fresnos, Texas, and nine other children to undisclosed locations around the country.

These transfers lack sufficient notice and erode genuine opportunities for children to assert their rights under Flores, a landmark decision from the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California that set national benchmarks on the treatment of minors in Federal immigration custody. The lack of notice also effectively prevents the children from remaining in the United States and avoiding trauma and persecution in their home countries.

“In reality, the Federal government plans to transfer these children to abhorrent facilities far away from legal counsel, mental health resources, and other critical services,” said Adriene Holder, Attorney-In-Charge of the Civil Practice at The Legal Aid Society. “Each child must be afforded the opportunity to know the government’s plans and intentions, and the opportunity to consult with their attorneys and their parents on next steps. Our clients and others have already endured significant and irreparable life-changing trauma, and they should be afforded sufficient time to assess their options under the law.”

Specifically, the litigation seeks:

  • A 48 hour notification from the Federal government to attorneys representing migrant children in New York State that details each child’s specific plan for reunification; reunification location; whether the basis for renunciation is release, detention, or deportation; as well as information on the client’s parent(s) and their available contact information.