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Federal judge could halt arrests of immigrants seeking green cards

Washington, Aug 23 (IANS) An American federal judge could rule as early as Thursday whether to order the Department of Homeland Security to stop arresting undocumented immigrants who come to government offices for interviews as part of applying for green cards.

US District Judge Mark Wolf heard testimony from people who had been unexpectedly detained when they sat for marriage interviews as part of the application process to prove that their marriages to US citizens were legitimate, reports CNN.

Emails entered as evidence in the case show what appear to be efforts between US Citizenship and Immigration Services employees and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) employees to coordinate the interview appointments and arrests.

There are five couples named in the suit, each consisting of an undocumented immigrant married to a US citizen and attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) say there are other couples in the New England area who are facing similar situations.

While the ACLU and attorneys at the firm WilmerHale have asked for the injunction to apply to the Boston ICE office’s region, the impact could be felt nationwide.

“The reason that these arrests happened according to ICE itself is President Trump’s (January 2017) executive order — and that is an executive order that is nationwide,” said Matt Segal, an ACLU attorney.

“The issue in this case is one that is important for the entire country.”

Attorneys for the plaintiffs argue that the practice of arresting immigrants with deportation orders who are attempting to apply for green cards goes against their own agency’s 2013 policy of creating “provisional waivers”, which were created to allow people in those situations who have US citizen family members the opportunity to become lawful permanent residents, reports CNN.

ICE officials testified that they believe the arrests were justified, citing the executive order calling for “the faithful execution of immigration laws of the US… against all removable aliens…”

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