On August 22, 2014, mothers and children from El Salvador and Honduras, who were held in a detention center in Artesia, New Mexico, filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement ...
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On August 22, 2014, mothers and children from El Salvador and Honduras, who were held in a detention center in Artesia, New Mexico, filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The plaintiffs brought their suit under the Immigration and Nationality Act and the United Nations Convention Against Torture (CAT), implemented in the Foreign Affairs Reform and Restructuring Act of 1998 (FARRA). The Plaintiffs allege that their rights to seek asylum and related relief, and to a fair hearing to present their claims, have been violated.
Specifically, plaintiffs allege that they have been subjected to a process in which they are provided virtually no notice of when critical proceedings are scheduled to occur; asylum officers and immigration judges rush them to answer questions regarding the violence, death threats, and sexual abuse they fear - all while their children are listening; their children are ordered removed without being individually screened to determine whether they have a separate basis for fearing persecution; and their claims are denied for failing to properly respond to questions about their asylum claims phrased in complicated legal terminology.
The plaintiffs, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), National Immigration Project and National Immigration Law Center, asked the court for: a declaratory judgment; a corrective action plan to be approved by the court; attorneys' fees; the return of deportees; and an injunctive order for the opportunity for plaintiffs to be given the opportunity to apply for asylum, withholding of removal, and CAT relief before any removal order is executed, including a new credible fear interview. They also requested, if relevant, a new immigration judge credible fear review hearing, with a reasonable amount of advance time to obtain and meet with counsel and prepare for each, as well as notice to Plaintiffs and their retained counsel as to the time of each such interview and/or hearing.
On January 30, 2015, Plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed all of their claims without prejudice. In their notice, Plaintiffs indicated that, as a result of the filing of the lawsuit, DHS had taken steps to remedy the failures at the Artesia facility. Furthermore, the individual Plaintiffs were able to secure representation from volunteer attorneys. In each Plaintiff's immigration case, the federal government revisited the negative decisions, vacated the expedited removal orders, and placed each Plaintiff in regular immigration proceedings. One Plaintiff had already secured asylum for herself and her children. The notice also stated that, on December 18, 2014, the federal government closed the Artesia detention facility.Tania Morris Diaz - 10/23/2014
Dan Whitman - 02/22/2015