A recent class action lawsuit has determined that Immigration and Customs Enforcement may not detain teenage immigrant without the use of due process. The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Northern California recently won a federal class-action lawsuit that they filed on behalf of immigrant minors who were arrested and unlawfully detained on allegations of gang membership.
A district court in California heard the lawsuit, Saravia v. Sessions. According to its decision, the government is required to present evidence to justify the detention of an immigrant minor. It also ruled that the minor has a right to a hearing before he or she is detained. Since the court ruling on Saravia, over a dozen minors who were detained under similar conditions were ordered released.
According to recent reports, ICE has often targeted immigrant minors on unfounded and frequently racist allegations of being gang members. Many of these teenagers were arrested in school without being informed of the charges against them, or without any formal charges brought against them at all. They were then sent to immigrant detention centers—sometimes thousands of miles away from their families—without a court hearing. According to the district court’s decision, this was a violation of the detainees’ right to due process.
These harsh and unlawful tactics have been widely criticized, but sometimes still occur with impunity. Immigrants and refugees are not without legal options, though. Immigration attorneys who have experience with California laws regarding immigration detention can be valuable advocates for people who are concerned about their loved ones who are minors being detained.