ICE ac­cused of us­ing ‘bait and switch’ tech­nique

Six fam­i­lies, ACLU ac­cuse Bal­ti­more of­fice of us­ing plan to de­port im­mi­grants

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - MARYLAND - By Phil Davis

A group of Mary­land fam­i­lies al­leges that Bal­ti­more im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials are par­tic­i­pat­ing in a “bait and switch” tac­tic in which they de­tain peo­ple vis­it­ing the of­fice who be­lieve they’re par­tic­i­pat­ing in a le­gal green card process af­ter get­ting mar­ried.

The Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union says six Mary­land fam­i­lies al­lege of­fi­cers at Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment’s Bal­ti­more field of­fice tricked im­mi­grants into think­ing they were at the of­fice to talk about their green card el­i­gi­bil­ity af­ter mar­ry­ing, then de­tained them to start the process of de­por­ta­tion.

The civil rights or­ga­ni­za­tion is­sued a state­ment that six cou­ples — Elmer and Al­yse Sanchez, Jean Claude Nana and Amira Ab­bas Ab­dalla, Jose Car­los and Olivia ldana Martinez, Misael and Theresa Ro­driguez Peña, Mwiti and Tatyana Mu­rithi, and Eric and Bib­iana Ndula — are seek­ing to file a class-ac­tion law­suit against the prac­tice.

“ICE of­fi­cials are de­cep­tively invit­ing im­mi­grants into their of­fice and then snatch­ing them when they com­plete the first step of be­com­ing a Green Card holder as the spouse of a U.S. cit­i­zen,” the ACLU wrote.

“The fam­i­lies’ ex­pe­ri­ence makes clear there is an un­law­ful pat­tern of trick­ery by the De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity, in vi­o­la­tion of Con­sti­tu­tional and statu­tory prac­tices es­tab­lished for im­mi­grant fam­i­lies seek­ing le­gal sta­tus,” the ACLU wrote. A spokesman for ICE de­clined to com­ment.

The group is al­leg­ing the of­fice is im­prop­erly us­ing the “state­side waiver process” — which can grant tem­po­rary waiver sta­tus to nonci­t­i­zens seek­ing le­gal sta­tus af­ter mar­ry­ing a U.S. cit­i­zen — to de­tain nonci­t­i­zens for de­por­ta­tion.

In a state­ment, Al­yse Sanchez said she and her hus­band Elmer, who is orig­i­nally from Hon­duras, went to the Bal­ti­more of­fice for a mar­riage in­ter­view when Elmer was led into a dif­fer­ent room and placed in hand­cuffs.

“I was guided out of the room and then they de­tained my hus­band,” Sanchez said. “I cried and asked, ‘Can’t I say good­bye to him?’ They said that was against pol­icy.”

ICE re­leased Elmer Sanchez from de­ten­tion af­ter the ACLU filed an emer­gency or­der June 13 against his de­tain­ment, the group wrote.

In May, U.S. District Court Judge Ge­orge J. Hazel ruled that a Mary­land res­i­dent was im­per­mis­si­bly ar­rested when he showed up for an in­ter­view for an ap­pli­ca­tion for a state­side waiver.

At the time, Hazel called the tac­tic “a trap for un­sus­pect­ing ap­pli­cants,” some­thing the ACLU noted in its re­lease.

Nick Steiner, an im­mi­grants rights fel­low at the ACLU, wrote that the Bal­ti­more of­fice “is clearly fol­low­ing a prac­tice that dis­re­gards the rules and reg­u­la­tions that are meant to pre­vent such fam­ily sep­a­ra­tion.”

“They can­not con­tinue trau­ma­tiz­ing im­mi­grant fam­i­lies unchecked, and in com­plete dis­re­gard of the statu­tory and con­sti­tu­tional pro­tec­tions that ex­ist for im­mi­grants,” Steiner wrote.

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