The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia has denied the federal government’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit against threatening the Trump administration’s policy of keeping thousands of undocumented immigrant children in extended periods of detention despite having family in the country.
Over the last few months, the Trump administration has been detaining immigrant children caught illegally crossing the border, separating them from their guardians and using them as traps for family members who are unlawfully present in the U.S. who attempt to pick them up. This policy has already led to the arrest of several individuals who had only come forward to retrieve undocumented migrant children whom they were related to.
Becky Wolozin from the Legal Aid Justice Center (LAJC) claims that this is the government’s way of carrying out a “backdoor family separation agenda,” keeping immigrant children apart from their families and using they as “bait” to lure their family members who have been living in the country for years, albeit without proper documentation.
A lawsuit was filed against the government in response to this practice, which has involved disclosing information about these children’s sponsors to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), on behalf of four detained immigrant children by the LAJC and a Washington, D.C. law firm. The government attempted to have these complaints dismissed, but the federal court’s decision ultimately allowed the lawsuit to go through.
Contributing to these arrests is an arrangement between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which agreed to let the Office for Refugee Resettlement (ORR)—an agency mandated to house immigrant children—transfer fingerprints and other relevant information on the family members of detained immigrant children to ICE. This practice has been happening since May 2018.
ICE’s scheme worked. The agency’s acting deputy director, Matthew Albence, reported during a Senate committee hearing that they have so far arrested 41 individuals.
“Close to 80 percent of the individuals that are either sponsors or household members of sponsors are here in the country illegally,” he justified. “A large chunk of those are criminal aliens, so we will continue to pursue those individuals.”
Much of that may soon come to an end as a result of the district court ruling, which Wolozin lauded for its tremendous potential to change the fates of thousands of immigrant children in custody, many of whom left their home countries to escape violence and poverty.
“In denying the motion to dismiss, Judge Brinkema recognized the failure of due process for these children and their families,” she claims.
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.