Immigrants that are detained are not always deported. A non-citizen is typically detained when they are stopped at a worksite or in traffic, and charged with a crime. An individual can be deported because they are undocumented, overstayed their visa or abandoned their green card. However, there are avenues that detained individuals can pursue with the assistance of an immigration attorney in hopes of remaining in the United States. Further, if those avenues do not prove initially successful, an appeal can be filed.
However, individuals that immigrated to the United States and are U.S. citizens have also been wrongfully detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. One 34-year-old citizen that officials suspected was undocumented was jailed for six months. Another man was held in a maximum security prison for a year after being detained by ICE officials.
The Heartland Alliance’s National Immigration Justice Center says that officials are holding individuals assumed to be undocumented longer than granted by a judge in pursuit of verifying their documentation. Accordingly, NIJC filed a lawsuit against the government for what they say are “illegal and unconstitutional” actions taken on behalf of ICE officials and local authorities against individuals suspected of being undocumented.
A federal judge recently granted permission for the lawsuit to continue against the government and its use of immigration detention centers. Further, it could become a class-action lawsuit.
Reportedly, in 2009, the Department of Homeland Security ordered more than 201,000 detainers. Most of these detained individuals are not criminals, they are individuals charged with minor infractions or traffic violations. Some of them, like the men detailed above, are even citizens. Accordingly, the NIJC says of the judge’s permission to proceed with the lawsuit, “This is an important ruling that overcomes a significant obstacle that advocates around the nation have faced as we try to hold the government accountable for its unconstitutional use of immigration detainers.”
Source: Fox News Latino, “Suit against immigration detainers to go forward,” Dec. 4, 2012