WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The class action lawsuit alleges that US federal authorities — under the guise of a "crackdown" on transnational street gangs — are detaining and deporting children based on unreliable claims of gang affiliation and flawed reports of criminal history.
"Representing immigrant children and their families, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Northern California and Cooley LLP today sued Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) for using unsubstantiated claims of gang affiliation to illegally detain teenagers in jail-like facilities in California," the ACLU said in a statement.
The lead plaintiffs in the case lived in Suffolk County, New York, where two weeks ago President Donald Trump gave a speech seemingly endorsing police brutality against people suspected of gang violence.
The teenagers were transported to distant detention facilities without notice to their parents or lawyers and were not offered a chance to challenge the charges against them, the ACLU said.
"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," ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project attorney Stephen Kang said. "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."
One of the juvenile plaintiffs says he was arrested while "play-fighting" with a friend after a soccer game. He is being held in ORR detention due to ICE's unsupported allegations of "gang affiliation," the ACLU said.
"The plaintiffs seek to be returned to their parents’ custody, and request a declaration that the government has violated their rights under the Constitution, federal immigration law and a 1995 consent decree that sets national standards for the treatment of immigrant children. The lawsuit also seeks an injunction to block the government from arresting and detaining immigrant children without cause," the ACLU said.
The class action lawsuit was filed in the US District Court of Northern California.