The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a class-action lawsuit alleging that the Trump administration is falsely accusing immigrant teens of gang affiliations in a concerted effort to deport them, NPR reports. The civil rights group says the young immigrants were detained without notice to their parents or lawyers, and without giving them a chance to challenge the allegations. The suit charges that the Latino teens are being “profiled as gang members based on the neighborhoods they live in and their countries of origin.” “We’re talking about teens who were picked up for play-fighting with a friend, or for showing pride in their home country of El Salvador,” said Stephen Kang of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project. “The Office of Refugee Resettlement is accepting wholesale that young immigrants should be kept behind bars because of what they look like or where they come from.”
Justice Department spokesman Devin O’Malley said that, “During the Attorney General’s visit to El Salvador, he repeatedly heard of efforts by MS-13 and other transnational gangs to prey on and recruit children as young as eight years old.. We will absolutely defend the President’s lawful authority to keep Americans safe and protect communities from gang violence.” President Trump spoke in Suffolk County, Long Island, last month about his administration’s crackdown on MS-13 gang members. MS-13 started in California and spread across the country, especially as gang members were deported to El Salvador and came back across the border into the U.S.