May 10, 2024

Lucas R. v. Azar

Filing date
Case number
Case type
Class Action
Case jurisdiction
U.S. District Courts
Central District of California

In 2018, NCYL and co-counsel filed Lucas R. v. Azar, which alleges violations of rights afforded to unaccompanied immigrant children under the U.S. Constitution, federal statutes, and the Flores Settlement Agreement. 

This case seeks to deepen and expand protections for the most vulnerable children in custody, including: children with disabilities, children that get stepped up to more restrictive facilities, children who are not promptly released to sponsors, children who are administered psychotropic medications, and children whose lawyers are obstructed from comprehensive representation.

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.
  • The government segregates children who have or are perceived to have a behavioral, mental health, intellectual, and/or developmental disability in secure facilities, medium secure facilities, and residential treatment centers, instead of the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs; and the government’s actions prolong these children’s detention by placing them in restrictive settings associated with heightened administration barriers to release.

 Joining NCYL as counsel for the Plaintiffs are the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, UC Davis Immigration Law Clinic, and Cooley LLP.

In November 2022, the Court entered a preliminary injunction that protects the due process rights of two of the classes: children placed in restrictive facilities and children denied release to their sponsors. A practice advisory on the Lucas R. preliminary injunction can be found here.

In November 2024, the parties announced three settlements, which resolve the remaining issues in the litigation. The settlements can be found here.