On Thursday, six Honduran migrants currently traveling in the caravan making its way toward the U.S. border filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of themselves and their children against President Donald Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the heads of ICE, DHS, and other agencies which deal with immigration policy, alleging that the administration’s policies violate their procedural and due process rights under the Fifth Amendment.
In the suit, the plaintiffs write:
Trump’s professed and enacted policy towards thousands of caravanners seeking asylum in the United States is shockingly unconstitutional. President Trump continues to abuse the law, including constitutional rights, to deter Central Americans from exercising their lawful right to seek asylum in the United States, and the fact that innocent children are involved matters none to President Trump.
The case hinges around Trump’s statements to Laura Ingraham at Fox News, when he first detailed a plan to detain and process migrants in “tent cities” at the border. The plaintiffs say this is a breach of the Flores Agreement, a 1997 legally binding agreement designed to ensure migrant children at the border receive some semblance of proper care.
The Flores Agreement is specific, noting that minors in immigration agencies’ custody must be housed in facilities that have basic things, like access to toilets and sinks, adequate drinking water, proper supervision, and adequate temperature control and ventilation. The plaintiffs claim that Trump’s tent cities... won’t do that, specifically highlighting the temperature control and ventilation part.
From the filing:
Despite the Flores Agreement’s lawfully binding mandates, President Trump’s policy position/initiative is to put these very children in tents, touting that “when they find out this happens, [held in tents for years in the desert] you’re going to have far fewer people come up.” Clearly President Trump cannot believe that his tents are facilities run by licensed programs as required by the Flores Agreements. And President Trump clearly is not talking about adequate temperature controlled and ventilated tents with toilets and sinks and drinking water, for Plaintiffs’ children, noting that Trump has condoned tent encampments as recent as 8 months ago.
The 80-page complaint goes further, citing numerous examples of Trump’s violent rhetoric against migrants in the caravan as evidence that he has no intention of following the legal asylum process (as well as the fact that we’re sending thousands of armed soldiers).
On top of the above, Trump has repeatedly professed that the caravan people will not get into this county, and just as significant, Trump has taken meaningful steps to ensure the world that this is his policy position/initiative, meaningful steps such as deploying thousands of active military troops to the border, waiting on caravan persons to arrive. The legal problem with Trump’s plan to stop caravan persons from entering this country is that Plaintiffs are seeking asylum, and Trump simply cannot stop them from legally doing so by using military, or anyone.
The plaintiffs are requesting that the court enter a judgement and law (which would set precedent in future cases) against the defendants, as well as declare the administration’s acts as unconstitutional. If successful, they’d receive costs and attorney’s fees as well as “all other relief that is just and proper.”
The migrants are represented by John M. Shoreman, a partner at the D.C. law firm McFadden and Shoreman. The suit is filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. I reached out to Shoreman for more information on the case, and will update this post if he gets back to me.
In the meantime, you can read the filing below.