Imagine an immigrant family in which the father has been arrested and incarcerated by federal immigration authorities for alleged immigration violations. Prior to the beginning of the Trump administration, most immigrants detained by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office were released if they posed no threat to the community. For example, from 2013 to 2017, 47% of detainees who were deemed to be low risk were released automatically. Following June 2017, the percentage of detainees released without a trial dropped to 3%. That change has caught the attention of the New York Civil Liberties Union, and it has commenced a class action to remedy the situation.
The lead counsel for the NYCLU said that ICE has secretly decided to detain thousands of immigrant New Yorkers unlawfully. This new policy is the subject of the NYCLU’s law suit. The ICE policy was revealed in documents that the NYCLU obtained in a Freedom of Information Act request and subsequent lawsuit. The NYCLU first demanded the relevant documents under the FOIA request but did not receive the documents until it commenced a law suit in federal court.
The legal issue raised by the lawsuit is ICE’s practice of treating all detainees alike instead of subjecting each case to individual review. The NYCLU and its litigation partner, the Bronx Defenders, are claiming that this blanket treatment violated the detainees’ due process rights. The lawsuit also claims that the rights of individuals with disabilities have been violated. A spokesperson for the Bronx Defenders said that the blanket detention is both cruel and needless. The policy is particularly devastating for persons with physical or psychological disabilities; these individuals are forced to fight their immigration cases while being held in inhumane conditions without access to the services they require.
Most persons affected by the ICE policy pose no risk of flight or danger to the community. Their confinement and the effect on their families is especially cruel. Anyone in this situation may wish to contact a law firm that represents persons whose civil rights have been violated by ICE or another government agency.