Lawsuit Claims Teenage Detainees Were Wrongly Tied to Gangs


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 class-action lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, targets Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Office of Refugee Resettlement of the Department of Health and Human.

Suffolk County police Commissioner Timothy Sini told The New York Times there were times when officers couldn't make criminal arrests so officers work with federal immigration officials to target known gang members "for violation of civil immigration laws, which is another way to remove risky individuals from our streets".

The teenagers were transported to distant detention facilities without notice to their parents or lawyers and were not offered a chance to challenge the charges against them, the ACLU said.

The lead plaintiffs in the case lived in Suffolk County, New York, where two weeks ago President Donald Trump gave a speech seemingly endorsing police brutality against people suspected of gang violence.

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The organization also alleges that federal authorities are "embarking on a concerted effort to detain and deport children based on unreliable claims of gang affiliation and flawed reports of criminal history" under the guise of a "crackdown" on transnational street gangs. Bryan Johnson represents a 17-year-old Brentwood teen identified only by the initials FE. The other is in Staunton, Va. His request to meet with the police department to introduce himself and address the harassment was rebuffed. "He was right outside in front of his house, play wrestling with his friend and police officers from Suffolk County arrested him and charged him with a violation of disorderly conduct".

Some attorneys have claimed their clients have been unfairly caught up in the police crackdown and labeled as gang members or affiliates and then subjected to immigration detention.

The Suffolk County Police Department - which has acknowledged that it uses ICE to detain teens the department doesn't have the evidence to arrest - was investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2009 for discriminatory policing against Latino community members, according to the ACLU.

Children who enter the USA illegally unaccompanied by their parents are treated differently under US law.