Feds settle immigration lawsuit subject to conditions

Wooden gavel from the court on white backgroundImmigration authorities in the United States have to revamp their current practices to ensure that undocumented Mexican immigrants have been correctly informed of their legal right to a hearing in front of an immigration judge to comply with the settlement of a lawsuit.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed the federal lawsuit in June last year on behalf of three organizations and nine Mexican nationals, alleging that Southern Californian Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers falsely told Mexican immigrants that they could go to jail for months while waiting for their cases to be decided and that it would be easier to get legal status if they returned home to Mexico.

The lawsuit alleged that the voluntary deportations offered by immigration authorities would actually stop these immigrants from returning to the United States for as long as ten years.  CBP and ICE claim that they use voluntary deportations as an option but deny using deception or coercion; however, they have agreed to change their procedures to ensure that immigrants realize what the consequences of going back to Mexico voluntarily really are.

“If the agencies implement the agreement fully, never again should families be driven apart based on immigration enforcement practices that rely upon misinformation, deception and coercion,” says the senior staff attorney at the San Diego and Imperial Counties ACLU, Sean Riordan.  The settlement forces agencies to give detailed oral and written information to undocumented immigrants about their legal rights and options.