Six Honduran nationals and their minor children, who are members of the migrant caravan currently headed toward the United States, have filed a class action lawsuit against the president, the Department of Homeland Security, the attorney general and other government officials. The suit alleges that:
“Trump’s professed and enacted policy towards thousands of caravanners seeking asylum in the United States is shockingly unconstitutional. President Trump continues to abuse the law, including constitutional rights, to deter Central Americans from exercising their lawful right to seek asylum in the United States, and the fact that innocent children are involved matters none to President Trump.”
If you think those contentions sound absurd, you’d be correct. The Supreme Court has definitively held, in Landon v. Plascencia, that “an alien seeking initial admission to the United States requests a privilege, and has no constitutional rights regarding his application, for the power to admit or exclude aliens is a sovereign prerogative.” Accordingly, foreign nationals, especially those currently in a safe third country have no “right” to seek asylum.
Additionally, the plaintiffs have no legal standing to pursue a lawsuit in the courts of the United States. They are citizens of Honduras, currently in Mexico, who lack any of the connections to the U.S. that are required to access American courts. It is a long settled principle that aliens, residing outside of the U.S., with no established connections thereto, lack standing to sue in American courts. The mere fact that a foreign national living abroad might be affected by the decisions of a U.S. official is not sufficient to establish standing. (These principles are best summarized in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia’s holding in Berlin Democratic Club v. Rumsfeld. This is the court where the caravan members have filed their lawsuit.)
Therefore, it’s a pretty good bet that the caravan lawsuit will be dismissed for both failure to state a legitimate constitutional claim and lack of standing. So, what’s really going on here? Is it just political theater?
Agitprop is certainly one factor influencing this lawsuit. But there may be another – good old fashioned capitalist profit. The caravan members are being represented by Nexus Derechos Humanos Attorneys (NDHA), Inc.and their legal costs are being covered by NDHA’s business affiliate Nexus Services, Inc.
Nexus Services, Inc. provides bond services for detained immigrants and generates significant profits doing so. It’s also the parent company of Libre by Nexus, an arranger of third party bond financing, which is facing a federal class action lawsuit in the Northern District of California for allegedly exploiting detainees “vulnerability and limited understanding of English to foist crushing financial terms” on them. Libre by Nexus is also facing fraud and abuse investigations by the Attorneys General of New York and Virginia.
So, to the reasonable observer, it looks like Nexus Services is abusing our legal system by filing frivolous lawsuits, not because it cares about asylum seekers, but for its own business reasons. On the off chance it obtains some type of injunction obligating the Trump administration to consider caravan members’ asylum applications, it guarantees a steady stream of vulnerable, low-income aliens potentially in need of its services. But even if the suit is dismissed out-of-hand, Nexus Services ensures that thousands of aliens who want to enter the U.S. see it as a socially conscious company interested in their well-being.
Call us cynical, if you must, but the courts of the United States were never intended to be used as a propaganda tool by allegedly shady businesses. Let’s hope this case is assigned to a judge who sees through the smoke and mirrors and rules in favor of American sovereignty.