This is like an election gift to Republicans.

People participating in the Honduran Migrant Caravan making its way through Mexico have filed a class action lawsuit in federal court in D.C. against Trump’s possible border enforcement plans.

The Complaint (pdf.) is fully embedded at the bottom of this post.

The complaint initially focuses on Trump’s statement that he would end ‘catch and release’ and would detain those caught entering the U.S. illegally. The complaint alleges this is a violation of the Flores settlement agreement (exhibit 1 to the Complaint) and a violation of the migrants constitutional rights:

Trump’s professed and enacted policy towards thousands of caravanners seeking asylum in the United States is shockingly unconstitutional. President Trump continues to abuse the law, including constitutional rights, to deter Central Americans from exercising their lawful right to seek asylum in the United States, and the fact that innocent children are involved matters none to President Trump….

Despite the Flores Agreement’s lawfully binding mandates, President Trump’s policy position/initiative is to put these very children in tents, touting that “when they find out this happens, [held in tents for years in the desert] you’re going to have far fewer people come up.” Clearly President Trump cannot believe that his tents are facilities run by licensed programs as required by the Flores Agreements. And President Trump clearly is not talking about adequate temperature controlled and ventilated tents with toilets and sinks and drinking water, for Plaintiffs’ children, noting that Trump has condoned tent encampments as recent as 8 months ago. Id. Moreover, the issue of detaining people in tents indefinitely brings about more unconstitutional conduct by our President.

So, taking President Trump at his word—that his policy position/initiative is to detain people in tents until they have to go back to central America—President Trump must be directing officials to designate all Caravanners as “you are an arriving alien.” Id. The problem with this designation however is that the law requires Defendants to permit all such designated persons to challenge their designations; consequently, Trump’s policy of keeping all persons detained until they must leave the country necessarily violates due process rights.

The complaint goes on to complain about Trump’s plan to prevent illegal border crossers from applying for asylum, requiring them to present themselves instead at official border points of entry:

On top of the above, Trump has repeatedly professed that the caravan people will not get into this county, and just as significant, Trump has taken meaningful steps to ensure the world that this is his policy position/initiative, meaningful steps such as deploying thousands of active military troops to the border, waiting on caravan persons to arrive. The legal problem with Trump’s
plan to stop caravan persons from entering this country is that Plaintiffs are seeking asylum, and Trump simply cannot stop them from legally doing so by using military, or anyone.

Last, but not least, the complaint has a general complaint about Trump’s intentions:

This Court should also note that President Trump has begun hysterically asserting without any evidence that “many criminals” and “many gang members” are in this “onslaught” of migration. In an effort to create fear and hysteria, Trump has gone so far as to call this “an invasion of our Country.” Despite these statements and actions, Trump has been unable to produce any evidence of criminals and gang members within the caravan, which has largely proceeded peacefully on its journey. Plaintiffs now request that this Court declare Trump’s policy positions/initiatives outlined in this Complaint unconstitutional, to end this case and controversy.

I’d like to say this is a legal joke, coming before any plan has been adopted much less implemented. None of the plaintiffs has yet suffered any legal harm. But we know from the litigation against Trump’s travel orders that there likely is a district court judge somewhere who will expand concepts of standing and restrict presidential powers over who may enter the country.

So don’t completely dismiss this. But don’t take it too seriously at the moment. I checked the docket this morning, and as of this writing there is no motion for an injunction. So no immediate relief is sought.

I see this primarily as a legal placeholder, so that if and when the migrants actually are detained or prevented from applying for asylum this lawsuit, being the first filed, will be the legal vehicle for challenge.

More important, perhaps, is that it plays right into Republican election themes. Coming just days before the midterms, consider it an election eve gift to Republicans.

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Pineda v Trump – Migrant Caravan Lawsuit – Class Action Complaint by Legal Insurrection on Scribd