National Center for Youth Law


Lucas R. v. Azar

This lawsuit alleges violations of a 1997 settlement agreement in Flores v. Reno that set national standards for the treatment and placement of immigrant minors. Five immigrant children challenged the government for unlawfully detaining them in jail-like conditions for prolonged periods, drugging them with powerful psychotropic medication without consent, arbitrarily denying release to their family, and denying access to legal counsel.

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The complaint charges the government with inappropriately detaining children in unnecessarily restrictive detention centers without fair process, unlawfully medicating children without parental or other appropriate authorization, and failing to promptly release children to family members in the United States.  It also alleges that the government is violating the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by obstructing detained children from accessing lawyers and failing to provide due process.  In particular, the complaint alleges:

  • The government regularly confines juveniles in unnecessarily restrictive detention centers on unsubstantiated allegations they are dangerous or constitute a flight risk, without affording them a meaningful or timely opportunity to be heard regarding the reasons for subjecting them to secure or medium-secure confinement.
  • The government regularly prolongs children’s detention on the ground that their parents or other available custodians are allegedly unfit yet denies children and their proposed sponsors a meaningful or timely opportunity to be heard on the matter.
  • The government regularly places minors in detention facilities where they are administered powerful psychotropic medications for weeks, months, or years, without procedural safeguards and without providing notice to or obtaining the consent of their parents, even when those parents are present in the United States and readily available to grant or withhold consent.
  • The government blocks lawyers from representing detained children with respect to placement, administration of psychotropic medications, or release to available family members, even though Congress has allocated funds specifically to provide lawyers to represent children who are or have been in federal custody, including for issues related to release and least-restrictive placement.

Press Coverage


Judge Gee's Order Granting Class Certification, and Largely Dismissing the Government's Motion to Dismiss - November 2018

Lucas R. v. Azar First Amended Complaint - September 2018

Lucas v. Azar Complaint - June 2018

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