Saravia v. Sessions (Due Process for Immigrant Youth)
The ACLU Foundation of Northern California is suing Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) for using unsubstantiated claims of gang affiliation to illegally detain teenagers in jail-like facilities in California. The lead plaintiffs seek to represent a broader class of immigrant children and their families.
The suit charges ORR with accepting ICE’s unsubstantiated gang allegations and placing children in severely restrictive conditions, even though the government had previously released the youth to the custody of their parents. Plaintiffs were transported to distant detention facilities without notice to their parents or lawyers and were not afforded a chance to challenge the charges against them. The clients lived in Suffolk County, New York and are also represented by the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, and Cooley LLP.
Soon after filing the initial complaint, we sought a preliminary injunction to stop the government from detaining these children without a hearing. In November 2017, Judge Vince Chhabria of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California granted our motion for preliminary injunction, ordering the government to provide each of the detained children with a hearing within seven days of their arrest, at which the government would have to justify the arrest before a neutral decisionmaker. Over 35 children were granted hearings pursuant to this order, and over 30 of them were released because the government’s evidence of gang affiliation was either flimsy or non-existent.
In October 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld the lower court’s preliminary injunction, ruling that Judge Chhabria had acted within his authority to order the hearings.