The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a class action lawsuit against President Trump’s administration over the detention of immigrant teenagers for “unsubstantiated claims of gang affiliation.”
The lawsuit, announced on Friday, targets Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsThose predicting Facebook's demise are blowing smoke If bitcoin is 'digital gold,' it should be taxed like gold The metaverse is coming — society should be wary MORE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement.
In a press release, the ACLU accuses ICE and the Office of Refugee Resettlement of detaining children and transporting them to detention facilities without notifying their parents or lawyers.
The organization also alleges that ICE is detaining and deporting the immigrant teens “under the guise of a ‘crackdown’ on transnational street gangs” and accuses the federal agency of making arrests based on “unreliable claims of gang affiliation and flawed reports of criminal history.”
“We’re talking about teens who were picked up for play-fighting with a friend, or for showing pride in their home country of El Salvador,” Stephen Kang, an attorney with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, said in the release. “The Office of Refugee Resettlement is accepting wholesale that young immigrants should be kept behind bars because of what they look like or where they come from.”
The lead plaintiffs in the case are from Suffolk County in Long Island, N.Y., where Trump gave a speech last month vowing to crack down on the MS-13 gang.
Trump drew criticism during his speech for suggesting police officers should treat suspects violently when arresting them.
In May, ICE announced it has arrested more than 1,300 people in a crackdown on gangs. Three of those arrested had Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals paperwork protecting them from deportation, according to a report at the time by The Washington Post.
The crackdown on gangs coupled with the Trump administration's tough stance on legal and illegal immigration has raised alarms among activists that people with tenuous connections to gangs could come under unfair scrutiny.
Fox News reported a surge in people seeking to remove tattoos that people believed could be used by ICE to link them to gangs.
The ACLU class action lawsuit seeks the release of the teens who are the plaintiffs in the case as well as an injunction to prevent the government from further detaining immigrant children without cause.