NEW YORK (AP) — Some teenagers who entered the United States under the unaccompanied-children program are being illegally detained because of allegations of gang affiliation, the American Civil Liberties Union says in a lawsuit.
The lawsuit was filed in San Francisco on behalf of three teenagers recently detained on Long Island, just east of New York. An ACLU lawyer says the lawsuit was filed there because the teenagers were taken to a government facility in northern California.
The lawsuit is seeking class action status to determine the national scope of the detention program and the number of teenagers who may be affected.
William S. Freeman, senior staff attorney for the ACLU of Northern California, said the suit charges the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement with accepting unsubstantiated gang allegations made by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The suit said the children were placed in severely restrictive conditions based on the allegations.
Freeman said the children had previously been screened by the Office of Refugee Resettlement and placed with their parents on Long Island after entering the country illegally from Central America.
“They have dreams and legal claims to remain in the United States, but they’ve been swept up by an administration that prioritizes deportations over truth and justice,” he said.
The defendants in the lawsuit include President Donald Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions; Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Office of Refugee Resettlement.
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