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A District court judge in Washington, DC, ruled that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office violated the law by detaining unaccompanied children who turned 18 and “past the age” of custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).
Judge Rudolph Contreras ordered the agency to change its practices and procedures to “prevent further illegal detentions,” the American Immigration Council reported.
The case corresponds to the case García Ramírez et al. v. ICE and was the result of nearly three years of litigation by the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC), Kirkland & Ellis LLP, and the Council.
The decision states that ICE commits “widespread violations” of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, which requires the agency to prioritize placing children in the “least restrictive environment.”
“When an unaccompanied immigrant child turned 18 in ORR custody, ICE routinely arrested, handcuffed, and transported him to immigration detention centers. “, indicates the report.
The court explained that its decision to grant precautionary measures was based in part on ICE’s failure to comply with the orders during the life of the case, which constitutes a form of “resistance by the agency to the fulfillment of its legal duties.”
Thus, the five-year permanent court order requires you to substantially comply with federal law requiring the relocation of children to safe settings; retrain your officers and renew your policies and manual on how to make custody determinations; document your custody decisions; provide monthly reports and documentation to claim attorneys.
It is stated that one of the main plaintiffs in the case, Sulma Hernández Alfaro, fled to the United States as a minor to seek asylum and was transferred from ORR to ICE custody when she turned 18.
“It is the best decision that has been made after so much waiting, thank God for blessing the young people who turn 18, that this news is their best gift. Thanks to the lawyers who fought for freedom and an opportunity for every young person ”, Hernández Alfaro considered.
Kate Melloy Goettel, Director of Litigation for the Council welcomed Judge Rudolph’s decision.
“ICE should not lock up any child when they turn 18“, He indicated. “The court order establishes a much-needed responsibility for an agency that operates in a ‘lock them up’ spirit. We hope that this order marks a change in the agency’s policies, practice and culture regarding immigrant youth. “
Also Steve Patton of Kirkland & Ellis, who was the lead attorney for the class action lawsuit, welcomed the decision, after three years of legal litigation.
“When we filed this lawsuit in 2018, up to 80 percent of these young people were illegally detained. Currently, more than 99 percent of them are given to relatives and other sponsors ”, he indicated. “We are extremely pleased with the court’s ruling.”
Mark Fleming, associate director of litigation for the Immigrants of the NIJC joined the celebration of the order reported on Tuesday.
“We are grateful that the court has recognized ICE’s breach of the law and its pattern of impunity … (which) has been particularly damaging to young immigrants,” he said.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.