Six couples have filed a class-action lawsuit that accuses federal agents of luring couples into marriage interviews in Baltimore in order to deport the immigrant spouse, the Associated Press reported.
According to records, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services approved 23,253 provisional unlawful presence waivers, the final documents that spouses, children or parents of citizens need before leaving the country and rejoining their families legally.
But it’s the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that the American Civil Liberties Union says is using the marriage interview process as a trap. ACLU of Maryland attorney Nick Steiner told the Associated Press it began in 2017 and seems to be happening randomly nationwide.
“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,” Steiner said in an email to the Associated Press.
Even with that number, the ACLU told the Associated Press that more and more federal agents have “cruelly twisted” the marriage interview process by using it to lure undocumented people into interviews in order to deport them. There is a similar complaint in Massachusetts that the ACLU is helping with.
The Associated Press reported that dozens of detentions have happened from marriage interviews in New York, Virginia, Florida, Illinois and California.
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In a Maryland case, U.S. District Judge George J. Hazel already reversed the deportation of a Chinese man that was trapped in a successful marriage interview by federal agents. Hazel said that federal agents can’t use the process “as a honeypot to trap undocumented immigrants who seek to take advantage of its protections.”