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Case Summary

Wilmer Garcia Ramirez et al. v. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement et al., is a federal class-action lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for transferring unaccompanied minors who reach their 18th birthdays to ICE adult detention facilities without considering less restrictive placements. In the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia, Kirkland & Ellis LLP and the National Immigrant Justice Center argue that the U.S. government routinely and systematically fails to adhere to the statutory provisions that require them to consider placement in “the least restrictive setting available,” and to provide meaningful alternatives to detention as required by amendments to the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA).


The Plaintiffs

The plaintiffs are former unaccompanied children who were, are, or will be detained by ICE after being transferred from the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) because they have turned 18 years of age and as to whom ICE did not consider placement in the least restrictive setting available, including alternative to detention programs as required by the statute.

One of the lead plaintiffs, Ana, fled El Salvador with her two-year-old son after receiving death threats from gang members. After entering the United States at a port of entry, Ana and her son were placed under ORR custody as unaccompanied minors. On her 18th birthday, Ana was separated from her son after ICE detained her and transferred her to an adult detention facility.



March 5, 2018
NIJC and Kirkland & Ellis LLP file suit in the D.C. District Court

March 5, 2018
NIJC and Kirkland & Ellis LLP file motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction on behalf of Plaintiffs and a class of similarly situated immigrant teenagers

April 18, 2018
Court grants a preliminary injunction requiring ICE to reassess its custody of the two original lead plaintiffs and place them in the “least restrictive setting” possible, as required under U.S. law

August 30, 2018
Court grants Plaintiff’s Motion for Class Certification


Relevant Documents


Motion Granting Preliminary Injunction

Motion Granting Plaintiffs Class Certification


In the Media

Press release announcing lawsuit

Press release announcing preliminary injunction

Press release announcing class certification

Huffington Post: ICE Is Throwing A Record Number Of 18-Year-Olds Into Adult Detention On Their Birthdays (11/1/18)

Common Dreams: 'Happy Birthday, We're Sending You to Prison': Record Number of Young Immigrants Transferred to Adult Detention Upon Turning 18 (11/1/18)

Vox: Immigrant children can be detained, prosecuted, and deported once they turn 18 (6/21/18)

Vice News: ICE Is Sending Detained Kids to Adult Jails the Second They Turn 18 (8/27/18)

The Miami New Times: ICE Handcuffs Immigrant Kids on Their 18th Birthdays, Drags Them to Jail (8/23/18)

Reveal News: ICE isn’t following its own handbook on how to deport kids (4/25/2018)