July 25, 2018
Issue: Law Enforcement Bias
Class Action Lawsuit Challenges ICE Detention Policy
Immigrants’ rights groups fight policy that keeps immigrants behind bars after they win cases
ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA, July 23, 2018 — The Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights (CAIR) Coalition, Legal Aid Justice Center, and Muslim Advocates have filed a class-action lawsuit on Friday to challenge a new and fundamentally unfair policy that keeps immigrants detained after they win their cases, violating the basic tenets of due process.
Previously, when detained immigrants won their cases seeking withholding of removal, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) would generally release them right away, barring some specific reason otherwise. Now, ICE’s new policy is to hold all such immigrants behind bars and keep them apart from their families for an additional 90 days, for no good reason. Withholding of removal, similar to asylum, is a protection granted by an immigration judge to people who have successfully proven they will be persecuted or killed if returned to their home country.
“There is absolutely no reason the government should continue keeping immigrants behind bars after they win their cases,” said Claudia Cubas, litigation director at CAIR Coalition. “We will fight this egregious policy, and if we win in Virginia, this will pave the way to eliminate this policy nationwide.” “A judge has already decided that these folks will not be deported. They’ll be allowed to live here and remain productive members of society,” said Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg, Legal Director of the Immigrant Advocacy Program at the Legal Aid Justice Center. “So why is ICE keeping them locked up for three more months? Just for spite?”
“We have seen a pattern of ICE enforcement against people who have no business being in jail. The unnecessary, unlawful, and costly detention of individuals who have already won their cases is yet another example of punitive policies designed to target immigrants and people of color and dissuade them from fighting their cases,” said Sirine Shebaya, Senior Staff Attorney at Muslim Advocates. “ICE should stop this practice immediately and allow these individuals to rejoin their family members and communities, as required by the law.” The case is entitled Sanchez-Acosta v. Sessions, No. 1:18-cv-872, and is pending before Judge Liam O’Grady in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. A ruling is expected this fall.
The Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition strives to ensure equal justice for all immigrant men, women, and children at risk of detention and deportation in the DC metropolitan area and beyond through direct legal representation, know your rights presentations, impact and advocacy work, and the training of attorneys defending immigrants in the immigration and criminal justice arenas. More information can be found at http://www.caircoalition.org.
Legal Aid Justice Center is a statewide Virginia nonprofit organization whose mission is to strengthen the voices of low-income communities and root out the inequities that keep people in poverty. We provide legal support to immigrant communities facing legal crises, and use advocacy and impact litigation to fight back against ICE enforcement and detention abuses. Our ‘De-ICE Virginia’ campaign seeks to sever the ties between local law enforcement and ICE. More information can be found at https://www.justice4all.org/current-initiatives/fighting-ice-enforcement-abuses/.
Muslim Advocates is a national legal advocacy and educational organization that works on the frontlines of civil rights to guarantee freedom and justice for Americans of all faiths. More information can be found at https://muslimadvocates.org.