Lawsuit alleges federal agents using marriage interviews as immigration trap

Lawsuit alleges federal agents using marriage interviews as immigration trap
© MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has alleged that some immigration officers are detaining migrant spouses after successful marriage interviews. 

The group's Maryland chapter filed a lawsuit in August claiming the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) "is using the process by which a non-citizen married to a U.S. citizen can acquire legal status as a lure to arrest, detain, and remove immigrants from this country."

The suit alleges that DHS is ignoring regulations meant to protect families and "has cruelly twisted those regulations, using them as an unlawful bait-and-switch to deceive the very people the regulations were designed to protect."

The ACLU told The Associated Press that similar occurrences have happened in Massachusetts, New York, Virginia, Florida, Illinois and California. ACLU of Maryland attorney Nick Steiner told the AP in an email that such episodes have happened since 2017. 

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“Previous practice would allow immigration lawyers to bring their clients to their interviews without fear of arrest because there was an understanding that they were trying to receive Green Cards, notwithstanding the removal orders, and there’s also longstanding guidance that USCIS should be following, that prohibits arrests at interviews,” he said, referring to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. 

The AP on Tuesday quoted plaintiff Alyse Sanchez, who said that her husband Elmer Sanchez was detained following a green card interview. 

“We feel it was a trap, a trick, to get us there,” Sanchez told the wire service. 

The Hill has reached out to DHS and USCIS for comment. Agency spokespersons told the AP that they don't comment on pending litigation.