WASHINGTON (CN) – Attorneys representing a small group of migrants travelling on foot toward the United States in search of asylum sued President Donald Trump Thursday night, claiming his promise to stop the caravan with military force is a violation of the U.S. Constitution.
The plaintiffs, led by Maria Doris Pineda, are Honduran nationals who have not yet made it to the U.S.-Mexico border. .
The class action filed in Washington, D.C., asks the federal court to declare Trump's vows to stop or detain them at the border unconstitutional.
Pineda’s attorney John Shoreman, a partner of the Washington, D.C.-based firm McFadden and Shoreman, wrote in the 32-page filing that Trump’s remarks from the White House Thursday suggesting he plans to bar foreign individuals from seeking asylum at ports of entry, violates the Fifth Amendment.
The amendment specifically entitles “aliens to due process of law in a deportation proceeding,” Shoreman wrote.
“President Trump has also begun hysterically asserting without any evidence that ‘many criminals and ‘many gangs members’ are in this ‘onslaught’ of migration,” the complaint states, quoting the president. “This is done in an effort to create fear and hysteria,” Shoreman said.
Deploying thousands of active military troops to the border to deny asylum to those seeking it – and detaining them instead – not only violates the Constitution, Shoreman argues, but it is also a breach of the executive branch’s powers.
The president’s remarks also suggesting migrant children stopped at the U.S.-Mexico border would be “put in tents” is a violation of the Flores Agreement, a settlement which guarantees that immigrant children cannot be held in detention for more than 20 days.
“[Minors] must be held in facilities run by licensed programs that are safe and sanitary and are consistent with [defendants’] concern for the particular vulnerability of minors,” the complaint states.
The facilities must be equipped with sinks, drinking water, adequate temperature control, proper ventilation, adequate supervision and the ability for minors to remain in regular contact with their families.
None of what Trump proposed Thursday, Shoreman alleges, indicates this will be how children are detained at the border when they approach.
There is only one way in which the president can mandate permanent detention without even so much as a bond hearing, the attorney claims, and that is if an individual is designated as an “arriving alien” upon entering the United States.
There are two other possible designations, he wrote.
Upon immediate arrival, an alien could be labeled “present in the United States but neither admitted or paroled,” or “removable.”
But in either case, he contends, a hearing must be held.
Also named as defendants in the class action lawsuit are U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection; U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services; Attorney General Jeff Sessions, acting director of ICE Thomas Homan, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, acting Customs and Border Protection commissioner Kevin McAleenan and immigration services director Francis Cissna.
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