LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — A class action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of migrants planning to seek asylum as they march toward the U.S. border.
The lawsuit is asking a federal court to put a stop to the Trump administration’s plans to build a tent city to house families with young children and seek permanent detention for asylum-seekers.
President Trump has vowed to keep the migrants out of the U.S., describing the caravan as including “many gang members and some very bad people.”
Mike Donovan, President and CEO of Nexus Services, which is covering the legal costs, says that’s simply not true.
“Undocumented immigrants have constitutional rights,” Donovan said.
Donovan says these are people who couldn’t afford to pay gang members to help them travel, so they’ve banded together for safety. He says one of the named plaintiffs in the lawsuit is a young gay man who was beaten eight times by gang members in Honduras.
“The last time he had four broken bones and some internal bleeding,” he said.
Another is a Honduran woman whose husband is both a police officer and gang member who put a hit out on her and their young daughter after she divorced him, Donovan says, adding there were three attempts made on her life.
“She left under the cover of darkness to save her and her 7-year-old’s life,” he said.
Monday, Trump stoked controversy with comments about retaliation against migrants he believes may resort to violence at the border.
“When they throw rocks like they did at the Mexican military and police, I say consider it a rifle,” he said.
Tuesday, he appeared to walk back those comments, stating: “I didn’t say shoot … but if they do that with us they’re going to be arrested for a long time.”
Donovan says thousands of members of various militias heading for the border armed with rifles of their own. He fears they may choose their own rules of engagement and innocent lives could be lost as a result.
“If it actually happens, we’ll never be able to come back from it. We’ll never be able to pretend it didn’t happen,” he said.