Thursday, June 20, 2019

ACLU claims that immigrant agencies set up “traps” for immigrants

Two federal immigration agencies coordinated to bring unauthorized immigrants who were seeking legal residency in for interviews at government offices, where they were then arrested and in some cases deported, according to internal agency communications.

The interviews were timed at the convenience of ICE agents, who asked government officials to space out the meetings so the public would be less likely to find out about the arrests, according to e-mails between ICE agents and employees of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services disclosed in court records Monday.

The documents filed yesterday offered details of the coordination between the agencies — a set-up that lawyers for the immigrants described as a “trap.’’ The e-mails were detailed in a motion filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, which filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees ICE, on behalf of five immigrants and their spouses.

The lawsuit challenges the Trump administration’s practice of separating married couples as one spouse seeks legal status. Two of the women, a Guatemalan mother of two and a Brazilian mother of three, were arrested earlier this year immediately after they were interviewed by officials from Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency charged with handling residency and citizenship.

The women were told by these officials that their marriages were deemed legitimate and then moments later, ICE agents came in and arrested them, according to their lawyers. E-mails and depositions of ICE agents obtained through the lawsuit show the federal agencies were working “hand-in-hand” to bring people in for interviews so they could be arrested and deported, said Matthew Segal, one of the lawyers for the ACLU.

“These were coordinated arrests,” Segal said. “And the marriage interviews that our clients had to go through were in fact set-ups.”

BOSTON GLOBE