September 03, 2014

Jenner & Block is serving as co-counsel in a lawsuit filed August 22, 2014 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on behalf of 10 mothers and children who are being held, or were held, in a detention facility in Artesia, New Mexico, after fleeing their Central American homelands to seek asylum in the United States.  The suit challenges the federal government’s policies that deny a fair deportation process to the plaintiffs, who came here to escape the extreme violence, death threats, rape and persecution they faced in El Salvador and Honduras.

The lawsuit alleges that federal authorities have erected various obstacles – including limiting access to attorneys, setting hearings without notice or time to prepare, failing to adequately advise asylum seekers of their rights, and applying a more stringent substantive standard for relief than the law allows – with the goal of rapidly deporting these asylum seekers.  The lawsuit contends that this results-oriented expedited removal system, first implemented at the Artesia center when detentions began there at the end of June, violates the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and its implementing regulations, as well as the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. 

Partner Matthew E. Price is leading the firm’s team, which includes Partners Gabriel A. Fuentes (who spent three days interviewing detainees at the Artesia center, in preparation for the filing of the lawsuit) and Lindsay C. Harrison and Associates Jason P. Hipp and Elliot S. Tarloff.  Co-counsel include the The American Civil Liberties Union, American Immigration Council, National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, and National Immigration Law Center.

The title of the case is M.S.P.C., et al. v. Johnson, et al.  The situation at the Artesia facility and the filing of the lawsuit have been the subject of much media attention, including coverage by Associated Press, Los Angeles Times, The New York Times (including a NYTop-ed column), The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post  and the ABA Journal.