The National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) [advocacy website] filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF] in federal court on Monday in Washington, DC, alleging that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) [official website] consistently fails in following guidelines in federal statute by transferring immigrant teenagers into adult detention facilities upon turning 18.
The complaint was brought on behalf of teenagers who came unattended to the US and were moved from government shelters to detention centers upon turning 18. The suit cites amendments to the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act codified in 8 USC §1232(c)(2)(B) [text]. NIJC argues that ICE is violating language calling for ICE to “consider placement in the least restrictive setting available after taking into account the alien’s danger to self, danger to the community, and risk of flight” when teens are transferred to ICE after turning 18. Once transferred into custody, NIJC alleges teens were then placed into adult detention without considering alternatives contrary to statutory language calling for teens to “be eligible to participate in alternative to detention programs, utilizing a continuum of alternatives based on the alien’s need for supervision.”
The NIJC through Steve Patton of Kirkland & Ellis LLP, pro-bono co-counsel for the plaintiffs hopes [press release] the court will “enforce these unambiguous statutory directives” and make alternatives to detention available.