A group of caravan migrants from Honduras filed a class-action lawsuit Thursday against President Trump and various government agencies, including Homeland Security, for violating their Fifth Amendment due process rights if the government turns the caravan away as Trump has signaled he intends to do.
The lawsuit was filed by twelve Honduran nationals, including six children, in D.C.’s U.S. District Court, by Nexus Services Inc., which is funding it through civil rights law firm Nexus Derechos Humanos Attorneys Inc. The suit maintains that since the migrants are coming from three countries — Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador — suffering human rights crises, some migrants have grounds for admission as asylum-seekers. By turning them away without fully hearing their asylum claims, they contend, the president and his administration are infringing upon their rights under the Administrative Procedures Act and the Declaratory Judgement Act.
“Trump announced in a lengthy speech at the White House on Thursday afternoon that in response to what he called the ‘crisis at our southern border’ and a surge of fraudulent asylum claims in recent years, his administration will soon require asylum-seekers to ‘lawfully present themselves’ at a port of entry,” Fox News reports. “Asylum claims made by migrants caught crossing the border illegally would seemingly be summarily denied under Trump’s proposal.”
Since the migrants have a case as asylum-seekers, the suit argues, Trump’s vow to effectively turn them away at the border is a violation of their due process rights under the Constitution. The due process clause states that the government shall not force citizens to be witnesses against themselves nor deprive citizens of “life, liberty or property, without due process of law.”
Though the Constitution obviously applies to those legally living in the U.S., legal precedent, including that confirmed by Antonin Scalia back in 1993, has applied due process to aliens in deportation proceedings. The Immigration and Nationality Act specifies that migrants can apply as asylum-seekers if they come from situations involving well-founded claims of persecution.
The class-action suit also works in an accusation about Trump ginning up “fear and hysteria” about the caravan by stating that some bad people are included in the group. Trump has repeatedly addressed the issue of who exactly is included among the thousands of caravaners, including in a series of tweets Wednesday.
“The Caravans are made up of some very tough fighters and people. Fought back hard and viciously against Mexico at Northern Border before breaking through. Mexican soldiers hurt, were unable, or unwilling to stop Caravan. Should stop them before they reach our Border, but won’t!” he wrote in reference to reports this week that violence has broken out at border crossings. “Our military is being mobilized at the Southern Border. Many more troops coming. We will NOT let these Caravans, which are also made up of some very bad thugs and gang members, into the U.S. Our Border is sacred, must come in legally. TURN AROUND!” he wrote in a follow-up tweet.
This article has been revised for clarity and to include the Trump tweets.