The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against ICE and the USCIS on behalf of 13 undocumented immigrants claiming the two agencies conspired to call people in for interviews at the USCIS so that ICE could arrest them for deportation. The undocumented immigrants had final orders of removal and were participating in a process through which they could eventually receive green cards. Instead of allowing them to comply with the program, the USCIS instead allegedly scheduled their appointments around the schedules of ICE agents so that they could be arrested while they were at the office.
The Alleged Conspiracy
According to court documents, undocumented immigrants who had final removal orders but who were taking advantage of the provisional waiver regulations from 2016 were called into USCIS offices for interviews. USCIS was reportedly notifying ICE of when the appointments were scheduled so that agents could arrest the immigrants. The provisional waiver regulations provide that people who have final removal orders but whose deportations would cause hardship for their families can have their deportations waived while they go through a process to obtain green cards. Without the waiver provisions, people would have to remain outside of the U.S. for 10 years before they would be able to legally enter the country again.
In one case, a woman who was brought to the U.S. when she was three years old received her removal order at age 15 when her father lost his status as a refugee. She remained in the U.S. and later married a U.S. citizen, with whom she had two children. She was told by the USCIS that she needed to come into the office so that they could verify the validity of her marriage. When she arrived with her marriage certificate and the birth certificates of her children, ICE agents showed up, arrested her and deported her to Guatemala.
The government has filed a motion to dismiss the ACLU’s lawsuit and has denied that a conspiracy exists. However, the ACLU has emails that demonstrate coordination between ICE and the USCIS for the arrest of undocumented immigrants in the USCIS offices. The plaintiffs are seeking an injunction prohibiting further coordination between the agencies.