Firm Files Amicus Brief on Behalf of Individuals in Benitez v. Miller

December 21, 2022

On December 19, the firm filed an amicus brief on behalf of individuals in Benitez v. Miller, No. 3:22-cv-00884-JCH (D. Conn.).  The case involves the horrific stories of a mother, separated from her fourteen-year-old daughter after journeying to the United States from El Salvador, and a father separated from his nine-year-old son after coming to the United States from Honduras.  Among other abuses, ICE separated both parent-child pairs by deception and sent the children to a facility in Groton, Connecticut while their parents remained detained in Texas.

With the help of lawyers from Connecticut Legal Services and lawyers and students from Yale Law School’s Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization, the parents and children were finally reunited by court order.  They subsequently sued the United States and the executive branch officials who were the architects of the family separation policy for damages as a result of their horrific and abusive treatment, alleging claims under the Alien Tort Statute for torture and inhumane treatment.  The United States has moved to dismiss these claims by asserting that it has sovereign immunity.  The Firm’s amicus brief—written on behalf of several constitutional law and human rights luminaries—argues that the United States government should not enjoy sovereign immunity for claims such as this, which involve egregious violations of well-established international norms.  The brief provides an overview of the murky origins of the federal sovereign immunity doctrine, explains how applying it to ATS claims such as this is incompatible with the Constitution and the United States’ participation in the international community, and argues that permitting the defense here would be an inexcusable failure of government accountability.