In a first known filing, a 41-year-old woman and her son have entered a lawsuit against the U.S. government seeking damages for alleged cruel treatment during their temporary stay at a facility operated by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The lawsuit filed in a New Jersey federal court did not specify damages sought.
Ostensibly fleeing Honduras fearing for their personal safety, Suny Rodriguez, her husband and son entered the U.S. in 2015 and, according to their legal brief, were subject to sleep deprivation, intimidated by ICE staff and forced to endure inhumane conditions at the detention facility.
The suit also claims the family was separated from their father and prevented to speaking with legal counsel.
Citing police abuse and aggressive questioning over the death of her mother, a known critic of Honduran police, Rodriguez departed from Central America in 2015.
Distinguishing the conditions in her home country and at the ICE detention center, Rodriguez said, “The treatment I received in the detention centers was worse.”
Although the case is unprecedented, experts in immigrant law expressed optimism for the precedent.
“(Pending legal success) it will send a strong signal to immigration authorities to clean up their act,” said Stephen Yale-Loehr, an immigration law professor at Cornell University in New York.
Neither the Department of Justice, Homeland Security nor ICE commented on the lawsuit.
[Reuters] [Photo courtesy Getty Images]