April 12, 2024

Duchitanga v. Lloyd

Filing date
Case type
Class Action
Case jurisdiction
U.S. District Courts
Southern District of New York

All children deserve protections that promote their health and well-being and respect their critically important connections to parents and loved ones.

In 2018, as part of the National Center for Youth Law's efforts to keep immigrant children in communities rather than in government custody, we filed, in partnership with the New York Civil Liberties Union and American Civil Liberties Union, Duchitanga v. Lloyd — a lawsuit that challenged the Trump administration’s delayed release of immigrant children to parents and sponsors due to new fingerprint background check requirements. In 2022, settlement in the case was announced

The fingerprint policy kept children detained for long periods away from their parents, adding weeks and months to their time in government custody. At the same time, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) adopted new policies to share fingerprints and other information with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for enforcement purposes, deterring parents and sponsors from reunifying with their children.

In 2019, under pressure from the New York Civil Liberties Union, American Civil Liberties Union, National Center for Youth Law, and Morrison Foerster, and faced with the threat of a preliminary injunction, the federal government rolled back virtually all of the fingerprinting policies challenged in the case. Since then, fingerprinting delays have largely been eliminated. The government has opened up new fingerprinting sites around the country and has scaled back fingerprinting requirements to match pre-2018 policies. This settlement will prevent these harmful fingerprinting policies and delays from being reinstated by current or future administrations.

Specifically, the settlement establishes a set of presumptive deadlines for the government to schedule fingerprinting appointments and complete fingerprint processing for parents and sponsors seeking to be reunited with children in government custody: seven business days for an appointment and 10 business days for processing. The new standard will apply to all children nationally in ORR custody, and the agency will also be required to regularly provide Duchitanga counsel with  data about its results during this period — tracking, for the first time, how long fingerprinting takes across the agency.

Duchitanga counsel will prepare periodic public summaries of the fingerprinting data that ORR provides under the Duchitanga settlement requirements. 

Fingerprinting Appointment and Processing Times Report: Dec. 2022 - Aug. 2023