By Kyle James  |  12-21-2017   News
Photo credit: Alex Brandon

A federal judge ruled that undocumented teens jailed in Yolo County and elsewhere must be given access to judicial hearings if the government wants to continue to jail them, now 22 of them have been ordered to be released.

Multiple undocumented teens were detained over this past summer by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents as part of a broad law enforcement sweep in Long Island, N.Y. that is targeting Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13.

The violent street gang has ties to El Salvador and President Trump has made a point to stomp out the group. The liberal Californians at the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Northern California, ACLU National and Holly S. Cooper of the UC Davis Immigration Law Clinic couldn't stand that these criminals were at the government's behest and filed a class-action lawsuit in August.

The attorneys claim is unfair that the teens were swept up in the law enforcement raids over what they say is little hard evidence connecting them with the violent gang. They say the teens were not given the opportunity to plead their cases in front of a judge.

U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chhabria ruled in favor of the suit on November 20 and ordered the government to provide each of the undocumented teens with a judicial hearing by November 29.

A Cooley LLP representative said in a statement, "When these teenagers were given a chance to dispute the charges against them, it became crystal clear that the government’s accusations weren’t backed up by evidence."

One of the cases with slim evidence they say is a teen referred to in court documents as "F.E." who was accused of gang affiliation over a scrap of paper with the number 503 written on it. The suit filers say this is both the area code for El Salvador and an MS-13 symbol and his attorney Brian Johnson says it is "second- or third-hand hearsay."

Of the 34 total teenagers arrested over the summer, 22 have been released and the rest are still waiting for judicial hearings. An ICE spokesman declined to comment saying it was a pending investigation. Most importantly, the government will be required to provide hearings within seven days of detention going forward.

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