A federal judge ruled that an immigration lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security could go forward as a class action suit. The immigration lawsuit alleges that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency, a division of DHS, detained undocumented immigrants in unsanitary and inhumane conditions. The class-action status will allow immigration attorneys more time to gather information from other immigrants who suffered under similar conditions in a federal immigration detention center.
Details of the Immigration Lawsuit
The immigration lawsuit alleges that immigrants detained in a Tucson, Arizona, detention center were forced to stay in “filthy, cold, and often overcrowded holding cells.” The complaint also claims that immigrants were not allowed access to “soap, showers, towels, toothpaste or toothbrushes.” The immigration lawsuit also maintains that the detention cells were “dirty and not regularly or property cleaned and (were) not equipped with waste receptacles.”
Immigration Lawsuit Cites Mistreatment
Attorneys for the immigrants involved in the class action immigration lawsuit called the conditions under which detainees were held “dangerous, inhumane and punitive.” The suit also stated that detainees were kept in cold cells, without blankets or pillows, leaving them sleep-deprived. The immigration lawsuit also mentions that detainees were not allowed access to telephones to call their families. The suit claims that DHS violated the immigrants’ right to due process and access to legal counsel to hear their cases.
Judge Widens Immigration Lawsuit
U.S. District Judge David C. Bury ruled that any detainee held for more than one night in the Tuscon facility could be eligible to participate in the class action immigration lawsuit. Judge Bury also ruled that the immigration lawsuit “requires weighing the evidence on both sides,” citing the “limited duration and purpose of (immigrant) detention.” An immigration attorney participating in the suit told reporters that the ruling will allow them to interview more than 100 other immigrants, most of them from Central America, as part of their case against DHS.
Government Attorneys Refute Immigration Lawsuit
Attorneys for DHS and the Obama Administration dismissed the claims made in the immigration lawsuit. A statement from the government’s legal team said that the Tuscon detention facility mentioned in the immigration lawsuit was one of the agency’s “short-term facilities” and that it is “not designed for long-term care or detention.” The statement also said that “periods of overcrowding,” such as those experienced with the influx of Central American refugees, “does not rise to the level of a constitutional violation.”
Source: Washington Post
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