Saravia v. Sessions (Due Process for Immigrant Youth)
Notice of Proposed Class Action Settlement
A settlement has been reached in this case. Please see below for important information about the settlement.
The settlement class includes: All noncitizen minors who were once detained in U.S. government custody by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (“ORR”), released to parents or other sponsors in the United States, and then re-arrested by the government based on allegations of gang membership or affiliation.
The settlement agreement is available here.
The court-approved notice to class members is available in the following languages:
In June 2017, the ACLU Foundation of Northern California sued 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 clients are also represented by the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project and Cooley LLP.
The suit charged 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.
In November 2017, Judge Vince Chhabria of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California granted our motions for class certification and 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 decision maker. 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. The injunction was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in October 2018.
In September 2020, we reached a settlement with the government, subject to court approval, that will prevent any recurrence of these practices and provide additional protections to class members going forward. Among other things, the settlement:
- Applies to all unaccompanied immigrant minors who have entered the United States, have been released by ORR to live with family members or other sponsors, and whom the government seeks to re-detain based on allegations of gang affiliation.
- Requires that if ICE re-arrests any class members, it must promptly provide a notice to the class member setting forth the specific alleged acts or conduct that provide authority for the arrest.
- Requires that the class member is entitled to an Immigration Court hearing within ten days of re-arrest, at which the government bears the burden to prove that the re-detention is justified because the minor is either a flight risk or a danger to the community.
- Provides numerous procedural protections to the minor, including the right to obtain a continuance of the hearing.
- Contains detailed procedures for training government agents to comply with these requirements, track their efforts at compliance, and inform counsel promptly in the event of any future re-arrest.
- Prevents the government from using unsubstantiated gang allegations to deny class members a broad variety of immigration benefits, including eligibility for asylum, T or U visas, and “Special Immigrant Juvenile” status, which can lead to obtaining a green card.