Press Release: Temporary Restraining Order Protects Immigrant Children

LEGAL AID WINS EMERGENCY TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER REQUIRING FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO PROVIDE 48-HOURS NOTICE OF TRANSFER FOR DETAINED NYS IMMIGRANT YOUTH

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DECISION WILL AFFORD CURRENT YOUNG LEGAL AID CLIENTS THE OPPORTUNITY TO EXPLORE ASYLUM AND OTHER HUMANITARIAN RELIEF   

The Legal Aid Society won a ruling tonight in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) against the Federal government that will help ensure that young Legal Aid clients and the parents they were separated from are provided detailed information by the government about their reunification plans, and are afforded an opportunity to consult with their parents and lawyers to explore asylum and other forms of relief.

On Sunday and Monday, Legal Aid attorneys learned of the Federal government’s imminent plans to transfer two young clients to Port Isabel Detention Center, a facility in Los Fresnos, Texas that is not licensed to care for children, and several other children to undisclosed locations around the country.

 Legal Aid attorneys argued that these transfers without notice undermine the ability of their clients to assert claims for humanitarian relief such as asylum, putting the children at risk of immediate repatriation to their home countries where they may face persecution. Without notice, the children also potentially lose the chance to assert their rights under a landmark settlement agreement in Flores v Lynch, a case that set standards for the treatment of minors in Federal immigration custody. 

Legal Aid clients who were set for imminent transfer will now be afforded the opportunity to assess their claims and defenses before relocation. Relocation is stayed by the Order until Thursday, July 19, 2017 at 10:00 am.  

“The Federal government has an unequivocal moral and legal duty to inform these children of what lies ahead including exact information on their transfer location; where their parents currently reside; and if a transfer is for the purpose of release, detention, or deportation,” said Adriene Holder, Attorney-In-Charge of the Civil Practice at The Legal Aid Society. “This information is crucial for our clients – many young children who already suffered enough trauma – to make informed decisions about pursuing asylum or other forms of relief. We laud the Court for rendering a sensible decision, one  consistent with law and morality.”