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NYCLU Settlement Solidifies Protections for Immigrant Children Trapped in Prolonged Detention

NEW YORK, NY – Today, a federal judge approved a settlement agreement in LVM v. the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), the New York Civil Liberties Union’s 2018 class action lawsuit challenging a Trump-era policy that trapped immigrant children in prolonged detention.

Following NYCLU’s successful 2018 preliminary injunction, today’s approved settlement re-affirms that the Director Review Policy — a harmful mechanism that required former Trump-appointed ORR director Scott Lloyd to personally review and approve the release of any detained immigrant child who was or had ever been in a heightened placement while in ORR custody — cannot be reinstituted for at least another three years, if ever. It has been prohibited since 2018 by the existing injunction.

“Detaining immigrant children for unnecessarily prolonged periods — many of whom came to New York seeking refuge from violence and trauma — is a cruel overreach of power,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “Now, for at least three more years, we’ve eliminated the availability of a key tool the Trump administration used to traumatize children in its care.”

The lawsuit was originally brought on behalf of a 17-year-old boy, LVM, who was taken from his home on Long Island in July 2017, as part of the Trump administration’s crackdown on purported MS-13 gang involvement. LVM — who has no criminal record and no gang involvement — was detained and separated from his mother for over seven months, despite an immigration judge, local ORR supervisor, and every caretaker in the facilities where he was housed saying that he posed no danger.

Under this harmful policy and at the direction of Lloyd, children subject to the policy in New York were detained on average for over eight months, and twenty percent were detained for over a year — inflicting horrific, lasting trauma on so many of our state’s youth. Across the country, over 700 children were subject to the police and had their release from ORR detention similarly delayed until the Court issued its injunction.

Additionally, to allow for robust monitoring and flag any concerning delays in the release process, the settlement confirms that respondents will be required to provide class counsel with a monthly list of class members in ORR custody that are currently residing in New York and their time in custody.

Original filings and case materials can be found here

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