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Advocates for Immigrant Children Have Their Day in Court in ImmDef v. DHS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 7, 2023


Media Contacts: Alicia Vargas, avargas@immdef.org, (213) 653-1442

Joan Agoh, joan.agoh@justiceactioncenter.org, (323)443-2681 Caroline Fatchett, caroline.fatchett@stblaw.com,212-455-3694

LOS ANGELES — Immigrants’ rights advocates took the stand at trial today in ImmDef v. DHS, a lawsuit filed to protect the congressionally mandated rights of unaccompanied children who had prior interaction with Remain in Mexico, otherwise known as MPP. The trial is the latest step in a case initially filed under the Trump administration. Any settlement has been steadfastly opposed by the Biden administration.


“We shouldn’t be here today,” said Karen Tumlin, Director and Founder of Justice Action Center, and co-counsel in the case. “We’re simply asking for Biden to ensure that kids are treated like kids. This means ensuring that all children — no matter how they were first encountered — have the protections afforded to them by Congress.”


Witness Diana Tafur, Supervising Attorney for RAICES, explained how these rushed and convoluted processes impact legal services providers and recipients, describing how attorneys are forced to operate without appropriate time and information to develop relationships with unaccompanied children. She described instances where attorneys were not given the basic information necessary to make sound decisions about how best to proceed in an individual’s case.


Witness Marion Donovan-Kaloust, Legal Services Director for Immigrant Defenders Law Center (ImmDef) described the maze-like process attorneys must undergo when they encounter a child who may have had previous interaction with Remain in Mexico, and juxtaposed it with the relatively straightforward process immigrant youth traditionally undergo.

“The United States has both a legal and moral obligation to treat children coming to seek protection with particular care and respect their due process rights under the TVPRA — something two administrations have now chosen not to do. The Biden administration rightfully ended the Remain in Mexico policy but has lacked the courage to end this horrific policy — even when those suffering from their inaction are children. ImmDef is proud to stand alongside unaccompanied children and their families in demanding the protection they deserve,” said Lindsay Toczylowski, ImmDef Executive Director.


“The government has fought for two and a half years to deny rights to the most vulnerable immigrant children,” said Stephen Blake, Litigation Partner with Simpson Thacher and Bartlett LLP. “Plaintiffs are happy to have had their day in court.”


Plaintiff organizations include Immigrant Defenders Law Center (ImmDef), RAICES, The Door and the ABA’s South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project (ProBAR). The plaintiffs are represented by ImmDef, Justice Action Center, and Simpson Thacher and Barlett LLP.


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