Advocates Say Detaining Children is Unconstitutional

In an effort to combat what they consider to be the unconstitutional detention of foreign-born children, a group of immigrant advocates recently sued the federal government. The lawsuit alleges that the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is not releasing children to vetted sponsors in a timely manner. The advocates also say the government’s policy of handing sponsor information over to deportation officers is keeping many potential sponsors from coming forward and claiming vulnerable detainees.

There have already been several cases where disclosing such information has resulted in the arrest and deportation of family members. One Guatemalan man working to get custody of his son was detained by United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers and promptly deported within days of giving his fingerprints to officials for sponsorship purposes.

A Closer Look at the Lawsuit

In a 2017 memo which prompted the lawsuit, government officials recommend releasing sponsors’ personal information to ICE officials in addition to separating family members at the U.S. border. The memo suggests the tactic to help to curb the future smuggling of children into the country by sponsors.

Those involved in the lawsuit disagree. They call the detainment of children in effort to prevent future immigration, “unconstitutional.” If the lawsuit succeeds, it will put an end to the current practice of disclosing sponsors’ information to immigration officials and accelerate the unification process between children and their families.

Since the lawsuit was filed last year, it has been expanded to include cases for more than 10,000 youth housed in shelters throughout the greater Philadelphia region. A hearing is scheduled for early this month to determine if the new parameters for the class action suit will be certified.

The Detention Process

When an immigrant child traveling alone is stopped at the border, they are immediately placed in the custody of the DHHS. They wait in detention to be eventually released to screened sponsors residing in the United States. During the last fiscal year alone, an estimated 50,000 children were detained at the southwest border.

One plaintiff in the lawsuit who has been trying to get custody of her 17-year-old cousin since last summer, says she has submitted the same documents several times. She believes the government is stalling the reunification process to allow her cousin to turn 18 and be transferred to a detention center for adults.

There are an estimated 10,000 children and teens detained in local facilities throughout the Philadelphia metro region. Many of these children have parents and other family members who are ready and able to sponsor them, but fear arrest or removal if they step forward. An experienced Philadelphia immigration lawyer is an excellent tool for navigating the sponsor process and working to release a child or other family member from detention.

Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. Work with Sponsors to Release Family Members

If your child is one of the thousands of detainees currently being held at any of the shelters throughout the country, the immigration lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. can help. We work tirelessly to get answers about detainees and get them released as quickly as possible, while protecting the rights of their sponsor.

To discuss your situation with a knowledgeable and compassionate Philadelphia immigration lawyer today, call 215-925-4435 or contact us online to schedule a consultation. Located in Center City Philadelphia, we represent clients throughout the state of Pennsylvania and nationwide.