A federal class action filed by the attorneys representing the child immigrants separated from their parents at the border accuses the government of deporting reunified immigrant families while and forcing them to forego their asylum claims.
Justin Bernick, who represents the six lead plaintiffs in the case, argues that immigration officials have made a practice of coercing immigrant parents to waive their children’s rights to pursue asylum claims. He claims that ICE officials have been specifically targeting vulnerable parents, or those who face expedited removal orders, forcing them to make the uninformed decision of choosing to either leave the country with their children or be deported without them. His case drew information from the revelations in the California class action Ms. L v. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
“The forms do not recognize that the children have independent rights to seek asylum, and a right to be accompanied by their parent(s) pending the outcome of those proceedings,” the complaint states.
Justice Department attorney Sarah Fabian announced last week that over a thousand immigrant families face immediate deportation – news that quickly followed U.S. District Court Judge Dana Sabraw’s issuance of a preliminary injunction on the practice of separating immigrant families at the border.
While immigration officials may have complied with the order, Bernick’s suit claims that the immigrant parents were only given minutes to read and review the waiver forms handed to them, denying them the ability to fully mull over the gravity and consequences of their decision.
As the complaint notes, “Parents are not executing the waiver knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily.”
U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman, who will be presiding over the new case, slammed the waiver forms in a written opinion as early as June this year when he stopped the deportation of a Guatemalan mother who had not first been reunited with her son.
“The form is not worth the paper it is written on,” he wrote.
Most immigrants coming to the United States do so to escape violence, extreme poverty, or generally unlivable conditions. One of the child plaintiffs recalls having her family threatened by a gang for reporting the murder of her second cousin.
Bernick’s suit primarily contends that the immigrant children have the right to escape these conditions in their home countries and pursue asylum even after being reunified with their families.
“The minor children in these families – many of whom came to the U.S. to escape horrifying violence that they themselves face – have been completely deprived of the right to seek asylum, even though their individual right to seek asylum is guaranteed by Sections 235 and 240 of the [Immigration and Nationality Act] and the Fifth Amendment,” the complaint argues.
If you would like to learn more about this latest update to U.S. immigration policy, or have a loved one seeking immigration assistance, don’t hesitate to sit down for a consultation with the Lyttle Law Firm. Call our offices today at (512) 215-5225 to talk to immigration attorney Daniella Lyttle.