Ming Cheung

  • Hosted by American Civil Liberties Union Immigrants' Rights Project
  • Sponsored by Fish & Richardson P.C., Microsoft Corporation
  • Service location San Francisco, California
  • Law school Harvard Law School
  • Issue area Immigrant Populations
  • Fellowship class year 2020
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Ming is using impact litigation to (1) safeguard unaccompanied immigrant children’s right to seek protection from persecution and violence and (2) ensure their prompt release from deferral detention.

The federal government has thousands of unaccompanied immigrant children in its custody. These children are fleeing dangers in their home countries and hope to join parents, relatives, or other sponsors in the United States. Due to the pandemic, it is more important than ever to ensure that the government is minimizing detention, providing adequate care, and releasing the children as quickly as possible. Furthermore, state governments have begun targeting unaccompanied children and denying them rights and access to services to which all children are entitled.

Ming is committed to protecting the rights of immigrant children because of his own experience immigrating to the United States as a child. After spending several years apart from his family during his childhood, he became the first in his family to graduate college and attend law school. Ming hopes to use his legal training to empower others who do not have access to the opportunities he and his family had.

Fellowship Highlights to Date

In the past year, Ming has:

  • Obtained a classwide, preliminary injunction protecting all unaccompanied children from the Title 42 policy, allowing them to enter the U.S. and assert their legal rights
  • Participated in litigation challenging fingerprint policies that hindered the prompt release of unaccompanied children
  • Represented organizational and individual plaintiffs to challenge multiple federal policies denying asylum to virtually all migrants from Central and South America
  • Created an internal ACLU guide for reviewing requests for exemptions from Title 42, which has been used to process thousands of exemption requests
  • Negotiated and implemented a referral system through which thousands of children & adults were able to enter the U.S. notwithstanding the CDC’s order barring migrants from crossing the border

Next Steps

In the next year, Ming plans to:

  • Continue litigating existing impact cases until the challenged policies are rescinded or vacated
  • Investigate the federal government’s detention and release practices for unaccompanied children
  • Examine state efforts to discriminate against unaccompanied children or interfere with their rights
  • Use a combination of litigation and advocacy to address violations of unaccompanied children’s rights


Biden admin will soon allow 250 'vulnerable' migrants into U.S. daily

Fewer migrant families being expelled at border under Title 42, but critics still push for its end

Title 42 Foes Go Back To Court To Try To End COVID Measure Blocking Asylum-Seekers

ACLU: Texas migrant transportation order violates federal law

The unlawful detention of children and families fleeing persecution and violence is inflicting generational harm on thousands of future Americans. Rather than compounding their trauma, we should be helping immigrants build new lives.

Ming Cheung /
2020 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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