Migrants in caravan sue Trump and his administration, alleging 'abuse' of 'constitutional rights'

  • Honduran migrants traveling in a caravan to seek asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border are suing President Donald Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and other key figures, arguing the administration's stance is "shockingly unconstitutional."
  • The class-action civil suit, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., claims 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."
  • The suit asks the federal court to declare a number of Trump's recent policy proposals to be in violation of the supreme law of the land "to end this case and controversy."
A Honduran migrant couple and their five kids taking part in a caravan heading to the US, wait to cross the border from Ciudad Tecun Uman in Guatemala, to Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico, on October 22, 2018. 
Orlando Sierra | AFP | Getty Images
A Honduran migrant couple and their five kids taking part in a caravan heading to the US, wait to cross the border from Ciudad Tecun Uman in Guatemala, to Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico, on October 22, 2018. 

Six Honduran migrants walking in a "caravan" to seek asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border filed a class-action lawsuit against President Donald Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and other key figures, arguing the administration's immigration proposals are "shockingly unconstitutional."

The civil suit, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., claims 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."

The migrants' attorney, John Shoreman, argues that some of Trump's policy proposals violate the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment, which holds that "no person shall ... be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law."

Even undocumented immigrants have due process rights under U.S. law, though that can vary depending on the legal precedent being applied, PBS reported.

The six Honduran nationals and their children are asking the federal court to declare a number of Trump's recent policy proposals to be in violation of the supreme law of the land "to end this case and controversy."

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Patrol, and Citizenship and Immigration Services are also included as defendants in the suit.

Ahead of the midterm elections, Trump has ratcheted up both his rhetoric and policy proposals on immigration issues, zeroing in on the caravans. The president has repeatedly described the groups as an "invasion," and on Wednesday said he might deploy up to 15,000 military personnel to the border to keep the migrants out.

Shoreman said in a court filing that "the plaintiffs are seeking asylum, and Trump simply cannot stop them from legally doing so by using military, or anyone." The lawyer did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for an interview.

Trump has also floated the possibility of an executive order to end the longstanding policy of birthright citizenship for people born to noncitizens within the U.S. — an action many legal experts say would violate the Constitution. On Thursday, the president said he planned to block arrivals from making asylum claims outside of designated ports of entry, in spite of current asylum law.

"The fact that innocent children are involved matters none to President Trump," Shoreman said.

The lawsuit arrives with less than a week before the midterms, even as the caravans remain weeks away from America's southern border.

Trump has long railed against so-called catch-and-release policies at the border, which he says allow immigrants seeking asylum to be released into the U.S. pending a court date that many subsequently never show up for.

"We're going to no longer release. We're going to catch; we're not going to release. They're going to stay with us until the deportation hearing or the asylum hearing takes place. So we're not releasing them into the community," Trump told reporters at the White House on Thursday.

The president claimed his administration is "putting up massive cities of tents" to hold them, adding later that "usually, when they go to court, they're deported. It just seems that most of the people are deported once they go."

Shoreman argues in the filing that "Trump's policy of keeping all persons detained until they must leave the country necessarily violates due process rights."

The lawyer further claims that the policy of erecting tent cities to hold immigrants violates an existing legal agreement requiring that immigrant children must be held in facilities that provide access to toilets, potable water, adequate temperature control and ventilation, among other stipulations.

The Department of Justice declined to comment and the White House did not respond to a request for comment.

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