Twelve Honduran nationals, including six children, who are traveling by foot from Honduras to the U.S. filed a lawsuit on Thursday in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. that claims that President Donald Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and the Department of Homeland Security and others have violated their right to due process under the Fifth Amendment even before they have actually arrived on American soil. According to the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, "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." Precedent may be found in a ruling by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who ruled in a 1993 case that "it is well established that the Fifth Amendment entitles aliens to due process of law in a deportation proceeding."

The suit claims that it is widely known that El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras are “undergoing a well-documented human rights crisis.” Lawyers for the plaintiffs also claim that their clients’ right to the Administrative Procedures Act and the Declaratory Judgement Act has been infringed. According to the lawsuit, the president, attorney general and other figures are engaging in what it called "shockingly unconstitutional" policies. The class-action lawsuit claims that the Trump administration "continues to abuse the law, including constitutional rights, to deter Central Americans from exercising their lawful right to seek asylum in the United States."

According to the filing, President Donald Trump’s insistence that he will defend the national borders with the military violates the Constitution by forbidding asylum-seekers who may have a valid claim. The lawsuit claims that the president is stoking "fear and hysteria" by his assertions that criminals may number among the thousands of people headed toward the southern border of the United States. Citing Trump’s plan to build tent cities to house migrants and asylum-seekers, the lawsuit asked whether these living arrangements would qualify under the Flores Agreement of 1997, which protects asylum-seekers’ rights and limits how long minors can be held. Trump has suggested that family would be kept together while seeking adjudication of their asylum claims.

While the administration sought to modify the Flores Agreement this year, a federal judge in California rejected the initiative to allow for longer family detention. Even though the Trump administration has claimed authority to terminate the agreement, it is likely to be tested in court.

Trump said on Thursday afternoon that because of the current "crisis at our southern border" and the number of fraudulent asylum claims, the government will soon require asylum-seekers to "lawfully present themselves" at a port of entry. Those migrants who cross illegally may face denial of their asylum cases. According to the lawsuit, the U.S. cannot send troops into Mexico to cut off the caravan from crossing the border. Once an immigrant indicates an intention to apply for asylum, the suit maintained the process has begun. Asylum-seekers must be referred for a “credible fear interview,” for which the government would decide if the immigrant has a “credible fear of persecution,” the lawsuit said. If persecution is ascertained, there is a significant possibility that the asylum-seeker will be granted asylum.

Nexus Services Inc. is funding the lawsuits through Nexus Derechos Humanos (Human Rights) Attorneys Inc. Mike Donovan, president of Nexus Services, "Federal law enables migrants to apply for asylum in the United States. President Trump and his administration have used ‘increased enforcement,’ like separating families and lengthening detention to violate migrant rights." Mike Donovan, president of Nexus Services, said in the release.

According to a release, Nexus Services, Inc. is a privately held company, based in Verona, Virginia. “Nexus Services, Inc. is the parent company of a unique family of companies, both for-profit and charitable, that deliver cutting-edge products and services to meet the needs of migrants and their families, including free legal advocacy and making financial commitments to free the undocumented from immigration detention.” Nex Services is also the parent company of Libre by Nexus, an immigration bond services company that has been the subject of investigations by attorneys general of New York, Virginia, and Washington state, according to state and federal court records.

In a statement, Nexus Services, acknowledged two of the state investigations and did not deny the third. “Nexus . . . continues to cooperate with responsible inquiries into our business model and the life-affirming work we do every day to support immigrants,” CEO Mike Donovan said. 
Libre by Nexus posts bonds for persons held at immigration detention centers while they wait for their cases to be heard in the overwhelmed immigration courts. In exchange for temporary release, immigrants sign contracts promising to pay Libre $420 per month while wearing the company’s GPS ankle devices. President Trump said that many migrants skip their court dates and disappear into the country.

Immigrants, claiming that they did not understand contracts with Nexus, have filed numerous allegations and lawsuits alleging fraud. While Nexus denies the allegations, earlier this year, the Virginia Attorney General’s Office filed a petition in Richmond city circuit court to force the company to turn over records the attorney general’s office sought in December 2017. The attorney general’s office demanded company records because, the petition said, it had reason to think Nexus had engaged in “deceptive conduct and misrepresentations in connection with immigration bond services.” It also sought records on some of the company’s other businesses, including criminal bond services, prize giveaways, and real estate operations. 
 

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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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