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ACLU files lawsuit on behalf of detained immigrants

Florida residents are likely aware that the Trump administration's immigration policies have been the subject of much contentious debate. Immigrant advocacy groups have criticized the way U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents enforce these policies, and a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on May 17 alleges that the federal agency has routinely ignored its own policies and guidelines since the inauguration.

Under the Obama administration, those with legitimate reasons for seeking asylum in the United States were generally released on humanitarian parole while they awaited their immigration hearings. However, the granting of this type of parole virtually stopped at five key immigration offices after Trump took office according to the ACLU. The advocacy group says that even asylum seekers who pose no threat to the community and are not considered flight risks are being held in immigration detention centers.

The ACLU says that virtually no asylum seekers are granted humanitarian parole by ICE officials in Detroit, El Paso, Philadelphia, Los Angeles or Newark. Figures gathered in 2013 reveal that the same offices used to grant humanitarian parole 90 percent of the time. The ACLU claims that such a precipitous drop could only have been caused by a policy shift, but ICE officials denied this. According to ICE, humanitarian parole is still granted on a case-by-case basis. The agency also accuses the ACLU of ignoring data from ICE offices that would not support their arguments.

When those fleeing violence or persecution in their home countries are detained after seeking asylum in the United States, experienced immigration attorneys may seek bond hearings to determine whether or not bail should be granted. If such a hearing is ordered, attorneys could advocate for the release of immigrants based on their prior good behavior, the legitimacy of their fears and America's long tradition of treating asylum seekers with compassion.

Source: The Chicago Sun-Times, "ACLU sues government over detention of asylum seekers", Associated Press report, May 17, 2018

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