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Immigration Law

CHRCL Wins Nationwide Preliminary Injunction in Class Action for Unaccompanied Minors in ORR Custody

CHRCL, Sept. 1, 2022

"The Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law is pleased to announce that a Preliminary Injunction has been issued in a class action lawsuit expanding the rights of unaccompanied minors detained by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (“ORR”).

In June 2018, the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, the National Center for Youth Law, the University of California Davis Law School’s Legal Clinic, and Cooley LLP filed a class action lawsuit, Lucas v. Becerra, No. 18-5741, in the Central District of California on behalf of unaccompanied immigrant minors detained by the ORR for alleged violations of due process and the Immigration and Nationality Act. In particular, the complaint alleged:

·    ORR regularly “steps up” children from state-licensed shelters to highly restrictive juvenile halls and psychiatric detention facilities as dangerous or flight risks without affording them a meaningful opportunity to be heard regarding the reasons for restrictive placement.

·    ORR prolongs children’s detention on the ground that their parents or other available custodians are unfit yet denies children and their proposed sponsors a meaningful or timely opportunity to be heard on the matter.

·    ORR involuntarily administers powerful psychotropic medications to children without procedural safeguards and without the consent of their parents, even when those parents are readily available to grant or withhold consent.

·    ORR blocks lawyers from representing detained children with respect to restrictive placement, administration of psychotropic medications, or release even though Congress has allocated funds specifically for the representation of children who are or have been in federal custody.

·    ORR confines children with behavioral, mental health, intellectual, and/or developmental disabilities in restrictive facilities, instead of therapeutic settings appropriate to their needs.

On August 30, 2022, the Court issued a nationwide Preliminary Injunction (“PI”) briefly summarized below:

·    The PI requires the ORR to notify detained immigrant minors and their counsel when it decides against releasing them to parents or relatives and provide reasons for withholding release. It further requires ORR to inform the minors and their counsel that they have a right to inspect the evidence which ORR based its decision upon. If the denial of release is solely because the “minor poses a danger to self or others,” then the decision may be appealed.

·    The PI also states that when ORR determines that a minor cannot be released to a proposed sponsor, ORR must provide that proposed sponsor with a written notice advising the reasons for denial, the evidence used to support the denial decision, and notice that the decision is appealable.

·    Critically, under the PI, the ORR must demonstrate “clear and convincing evidence that sufficient grounds exist for stepping up or continuing to hold a minor in a restrictive placement.” A Notice of Placement must be provided to minors, their parent or legal guardian, and their counsel no later than 48 hours after the “step up” and every 30 days thereafter.

·    Additionally, the PI imposes administrative review timelines and requires the creation of a Placement Review Panel to hear challenges to restrictive placements.

You may download a copy of the Preliminary Injunction at this link.

This injunction is a critical step forward in the Lucas R. case, and will remain in effect until final judgment is entered.

For more information about the PI or minors in ORR custody, email Carlos Holguin crholguin@centerforhumanrights.org

For more information about minors detained in ICE or CBP custody, email Peter Schey pschey@centerforhumanrights.org"