ICE Blames USCIS for Immigration Interview Arrests

On Tuesday, Todd Lyons, the acting director of the Boston field office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), made a surprising courtroom revelation about the arrest of immigrants while they attended interviews trying to gain legal status in the US. They blamed the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) field office in Lawrence, where five immigrants were arrested when attending scheduled appointments in March 2017.

The testimony was part of the legal challenge launched by the Massachusetts branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, which had accused USCIS and ICE of deliberately scheduling US citizenship interviews with the intention of trapping undocumented immigrants married to Americans, who hoped to become legal residents.

According to an email released on Tuesday, the Boston field office was questioned by Immigration and Customs Enforcement headquarters in Washington about why the arrests took place at those interviews. Testimony and court papers showed that the interviews were set up by USCIS, who then asked ICE to move in and make arrests. Lyons says his agency has made no further arrests since February this year but that USCIS continues to notify it about interviews.

Lyons added that the Boston ICE field office is one of the few where immigrants with deportation orders against them are not automatically detained by agents. The ACLU says no immigrants to whom federal regulations offer a pathway to legal residency should be arrested.