Sometimes you can lose in the courts and still win. One recent example: our case J.E.C.M. et al. v. Dunn Marcos et al. that has now come to a close after nearly five years of fighting.
In 2018, LAJC and partners filed this class action lawsuit to challenge the federal government’s practice of holding immigrant children in custody apart from their families for months on end despite having family members ready and willing to take them in. The lawsuit argued that immigrant children and families have a constitutional right to be together and be free from government custody.
On August 29, 2023, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia granted the government defendants summary judgment, handing the government a win on the books, but for the best of reasons: in response to our lawsuit and others across the country, the government had largely fixed the issues raised in the lawsuit since we filed. The result: far fewer delays in uniting immigrant children with their family members.
The goal of impact litigation like this is to change policy and practice, and while the government may have technically prevailed here, it is only because our efforts made them change how the system works.
This case validates what our communities understand on a deep level: that families belong together, and that the conception of family extends beyond just the relationship between parents and children. It also confirms that children themselves have their own constitutional right to be with their families and free from government confinement.
Read the full statement about the case from LAJC and our partners here.