Washington, DC – Twelve of the estimated 4,000-member migrant caravan trekking through Mexico towards the United States border have filed a class-action lawsuit against President Donald Trump and other U.S. officials alleging violations of their constitutional rights.
The lawsuit was filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Washington on behalf of 12 Honduran migrants in the caravan.
It alleged that 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,” CNBC reported.
Six of the 12 migrants named in the lawsuit are children.
According to their attorney, John Shoreman, the President’s immigration policy proposals are in violation of the 5th Amendment’s due process clause, which orders that “no person…shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law,” FOX News reported.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Immigration Services, and Customs and Border Patrol and Citizenship were also listed as defendants in the lawsuit, according to CNBC.
The lawsuit blasted President Trump for his “professed and enacted policy” with regards to the caravan, and called his actions “shockingly unconstitutional.”
The lawsuit also cited the Flores Agreement, which was designed to ensure the safety of immigrant alien children, and demanded that the United States provide the children in the incoming caravan with “access to toilets and sinks, drinking water…adequate temperature control and ventilation, adequate supervision to protect minors from others, and contact with family.”
The lawsuit argued that the President’s proposed tent cities in the desert would be a violation of the Flores Agreement.
Use of the U.S. military to prevent the caravan from coming into the country is also unconstitutional, according to the suit.
The 14th Amendment guarantees constitutional rights to all people within U.S. jurisdiction, whether they are citizens or not, but does not grant rights to foreign nationals in a foreign country.
By keeping the caravan outside of the U.S., they have no constitutional rights.
“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,” court documents read.
The lawsuit contended that the President has “hysterically” asserted that criminals and gang members are among those in the caravan “in an effort to create fear,” and claimed that the group has “largely proceeded peacefully on its journey.”
The Associated Press published pictures of Central American protesters burning an American flag in front of the U.S. embassy in Honduras on Oct. 19.
The picture featured a burning American flag with a swastika painted on it by the protesters who allegedly want to come live in the United States.
Another Associated Press photo showed migrants carrying a giant Honduras flag banner over their heads as the humongous caravan continued north toward the United States border.
Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales told a gathering of foreign affairs officials from the United States and Latin America on Oct. 11 that "close to 100 people completely linked to terrorist issues, with ISIS and that not only have we arrested them within our territory, but they have been deported to their countries of origin,” Prensa Libre reported.
On Oct. 19, thousands of members of the caravan rushed the Guatemala-Mexico border and tore down the fence that separated the two nations.
"We are going to the United States!" Edwin Santos shouted as he raced past the officers with his family. "Nobody is going to stop us!"
When the illegal immigrants arrived on Mexico’s side of a border bridge, they were met by riot squads of federal police officers, KABC reported.
Police released pepper spray after about 50 migrants managed to push past them, and the others retreated as a federal officer pleaded with the crowd to “stop the aggression” over a loudspeaker.
But that did little to stop the flow of the caravan from Guatemala into Mexico, as literally thousands of migrants jumped off the bridge, or crossed the Suchiate River on rafts, to enter through the notoriously porous southern border into Mexico.
On Thursday, President Trump spoke about the surge of fraudulent asylum claims that have been filed in recent years, and announced that his administration will soon require those seeking asylum to “lawfully present themselves” at a port of entry, FOX News reported.
As a result, immigrants apprehended for crossing the border illegally would no longer be allowed to stay by declaring they were simply seeking asylum – a situation that is expected to be immediately challenged in federal court.
According to the lawsuit, anyone seeking asylum must be afforded a “credible fear interview.” If the asylum officer determines the immigrant has a “credible fear of persecution,” there is a high likelihood that the individual would be granted asylum, FOX News reported.
The lawsuit was funded by Nexus Services, an immigration services company, NBC News reported.
“The President is violating federal law, trampling the rights of Americans and legal immigrants to be free from use of the military for law enforcement, and has set up a potential catastrophe at the US/Mexico border all in the name of white nationalism and with the objective of scoring political points,” Nexus Services President Mike Donovan said in a statement.
President Trump has long denounced policies that allow immigrants seeking asylum to be released into the United States while they await court dates they might never attend, according to CNBC.
"We're going to no longer release. We're going to catch; we're not going to release,” the President said on Thursday. “They're going to stay with us until the deportation hearing or the asylum hearing takes place. So, we're not releasing them into the community.”
President Trump said he may send up to as many as 15,000 troops to the southern border to join up with Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, NBC News reported.
On Monday, President Donald Trump referred to the caravan as an impending invasion, and assured the migrants that they would be met by military personnel.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis approved the Department of Homeland Security’s request to deploy additional troops to the border on Oct. 26, and officials originally expected the Pentagon to deploy approximately 800 troops, The Wall Street Journal reported.
On Monday, the U.S. government announced that 5,000 troops will be sent primarily to ports of entry as part of Operation Faithful Patriot, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Most of the troops are engineers and military police.
The military force, which will equal approximately one-third of the number of customs and border patrol agents already working on the border, will later help support border agents by providing command center staff, providing medical support, and erecting tents.
An estimated 1,700 troops will be sent to Arizona, 1,800 troops will head to Texas, and another 1,500 troops will go to California.
One hundred active-duty soldiers arrived at the Texas border on Thursday, NBC News reported.
Nielsen has vowed to stop the massive migrant caravan from crossing the U.S. border with Mexico, and said she would not tolerate any acts of violence against U.S. Border Patrol agents.
“This caravan cannot come to the United States,” Nielsen told FOX News on Oct. 25. “They will not be allowed in. They will not be allowed to stay."
Nielsen said the agency does “not have any intention right now to shoot at people,” but said anyone trying to cross the border illegally “will be apprehended.”
“I want to make clear we will absolutely not tolerate violence against Border Patrol in this situation," she added. "I will not tolerate Mexicans or anybody else acting in a violent way towards our men and women on the border."
President Trump previously expressed concern about intelligence information he has received regarding the presence of MS-13 gang members and criminals within the hoard of migrants.
“Terrorists have highlighted, for many years, the loopholes in our border security,” Nielsen told FOX News. “We do know…there are criminals as part of this flow. We do know there are gang members as part of this flow.”
According to international authorities, some members of the group have kidnapped children during the mass movement northward, Nielsen said.
“So, it’s not all people seeking asylum,” she noted.
Nielsen explained that some members of the migrant group might mistakenly believe that reuniting with family members or looking for work in the U.S. constitutes “asylum.”
Nielsen said that migrants who are actually fleeing from violence have been offered the opportunity for asylum by the Mexican government, so continuing on to the United States is not warranted.
"They should be seeking refuge in Mexico," she said. "To ignore, basically, refuge and continue, in some cases, to come to the United States raises questions of what their real motives are."
According to agreements between many bordering countries, asylum-seekers should take refuge in the country nearest their own.
“[There’s] a misunderstanding that if you’re being persecuted, you can live wherever you want, and that’s not what that means,” Nielsen said. “There’s some real asylum cases which we want to help, but others are abusing the system.”
“Given this caravan, given this government’s commitment, if they come here illegally with no legitimate reason to stay, they absolutely will be apprehended and removed immediately,” she said.