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Two Government Agencies Are Being Sued For Arresting Undocumented Spouses Of US Citizens Seeking Legal Status

Spencer Platt / Getty

A United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office in Boston appears to have been coordinating with local Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials to arrest undocumented spouses of US citizens when appearing at interviews for legal status. According to a class action lawsuit against ICE and USCIS by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), documents show the agencies discussed scheduled interviews with immigrants at times that were convenient for ICE agents who would be waiting to arrest them. The ACLU criticizes these efforts as a deportation “trap” that violates the constitutional rights of immigrants otherwise following the rules to become legal citizens.

Emails show that ICE officials asked to spread out immigration interviews over time to best accommodate deportation efforts.

CREDIT: Credit: ACLU Massachusetts

The lawsuit filed Monday was part of a Massachusetts federal case involving Lilian Calderon, 30, who was taken into ICE custody in January when she and her husband went into a marriage interview so that she could begin the process of trying to become a lawful permanent resident. The couple visited a USCIS office in Rhode Island and just after sitting down for her interview, she was “unexpectedly detained by ICE,” the lawsuit alleges. In one case, the emails show ICE officials requesting USCIS to delay an immigrant’s meeting by 15 minutes because ICE agents were “getting a late start.”

The ACLU lawsuit claims that the government created this path to citizenship and is now using it to deport immigrants.

“The government created this particular path to lawful immigration status, and then arrested people for following that path,” Matthew Segal, legal director for the ACLU of Massachusetts, said in a statement to mitú. “These were coordinated arrests – and the marriage interviews that our clients had to go through were set-ups.”

 The ACLU lawsuit argues that Homeland Security regulations created under former President Barack Obama allow immigrants with U.S.-citizen spouses to stay in the country while they seek a green card — even if they’re already subject to deportation.

“That regulation is still the law of the land,” Segal said. “So arresting these folks is not about law and order. These are people with a path to legalization and the government is trying to block that.”

ICE officials say the coordination between the two Department of Homeland Security agencies is “lawful and legitimate.”

Andrew Graham, a Boston-based ICE officer, told the AP, the agency usually receives lists of immigrants from the USCIS seeking legal residency who have already been ordered for deportation, had re-entered the country illegally.

Graham said ICE then works with USCIS to schedule legal status interviews so that ICE agents can be present to make an arrest. He says ICE agents like to spread out these interviews to help the workload on agents and to prevent generating “negative media interest” from arrests.

The lawsuit is bringing the “negative media interest” immigration officials were trying to avoid during their arrests.

Many on social media are denouncing coordination between ICE and the USCIS calling it “inhumane” and “unconscionable.” This lawsuit comes amidst other controversies for ICE officials who have faced public backlash this year for the separation and treatment of immigrants.

The ACLU’s findings are the latest in the class-action suit filed earlier this year on behalf of immigrants who have been or fear being separated from their U.S.-citizen spouses. The case will be argued on Aug. 20 in Boston federal court and will include five couples named in the case.


READ:Trump Administration Targeting Immigrants Who Use Obamacare And Food Stamps To Deny Green Cards

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From School Shootings To Change: Here's What's Happened Since The Tragic Shooting In Parkland, Florida

Things That Matter

From School Shootings To Change: Here’s What’s Happened Since The Tragic Shooting In Parkland, Florida

marchforourlives / Instagram

It’s been over a year since the Valentines Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Despite the tragic loss of life during the shooting, there has been little progress in the U.S. to prevent more mass shootings. In fact, there were 304 shootings in the U.S. in all of 2018 killing 373 people and wounding 1347 people.

Politicians and the NRA have fought against gun measures that would preserve life moving forward. However, a handful of teenagers from Florida have led a charge that is changing the landscape of those in power and the fate of gun laws in the U.S.

Within days of the traumatic incident, students at Parkland spoke out in a way we haven’t seen before.

CREDIT: @bjoewolf / Twitter

During a time when school shootings have become the new normal, these students didn’t capture America’s attention simply because they were traumatized and horrified by the deaths of their classmates.

They called BS on “thoughts and prayers.” They were angry, and they had every right to be. Seventeen of their classmates died and politicians seemed eager to brush it under the rug.

People from around the United States flooded Washington in the days after the shooting in protest.

CREDIT: Untitled. Digital Image. UPI. 16 August 2018.

What most people don’t know is that countless schools around the country held both planned and spontaneous walkouts. One week after the shooting, West Boca High School students spontaneously ran from the moment of silence and walked 12 miles to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in solidarity.

Emma Gonzalez emerged as the face of the gun reform movement.

CREDIT: @HillaryWarnedUs / Twitter

Her face has been wholly unwelcomed by the Trump administration. One Republican nominee even stooped so low as to call this teen survivor a homophobic slur. That hasn’t stopped her.

Her and other students formed a non-profit called “March for Our Lives” and their main goal is to get America to vote out legislators who receive donations from the NRA. Genioso.

Unfortunately, young people are still dying across the country.

CREDIT: FOX News

Just ten days after Parkland, a gunman opened fire on a young woman at Savannah State University. The victim, Kaleel Clarke, died.

Ten people died in a shooting at Santa Fe High School May 18, 2018.

CREDIT: @JosephSakran / Twitter

A 17-year-old opened fire using his father’s legally owned guns, along with explosive devices found at the school. Ten people died, and ten people were injured.

“I’m scared to even go back,” one student told ABC News. “It’s just not something that you should feel throughout the day, being scared. Especially somewhere where we say the Pledge of Allegiance.”

One 17-year old girl died at Huffman High School on March 7, 2018.

CREDIT: @GovernorKayIvey / Twitter

This was an “accidental shooting,” which is something students wouldn’t have to be afraid of if every school was a gun-free zone. Courtlin Arrington was a college-accepted senior who planned to become a nurse.

Central Michigan University shut down after a student fatally shot his mother and father in a dorm room on March 2, 2018.

CREDIT: @MooSquidSyd / Twitter

The students woke up to an announcement to find shelter and barricade doors until further notice. This is protocol. This is not normal.

On March 20, a student opened fire at Great Mills High School, Maryland, injuring one and killing another.

CREDIT: “PHOTO: Crime scene tape is used around Great Mills High School after a shooting on March 20, 2018, in Great Mills, Md.” Digital Image. ABC News. 16 August 2018.

The student, Austin Rollins, shot himself in the head when confronting a police officer. Jaelynn Willey died a week after the shooting. She had recently broken up with Rollins.

The father of two Parkland survivors was fatally shot during a robbery.

CREDIT: Untitled. Digital Image. NPR. 16 August 2018.

Ayub Ali owned a corner shop in North Lauderdale when a man held Ali at gunpoint while he emptied the register. He left with the money, but then mysteriously returned just to shoot Ali.

His family is once again struck with the grief of senseless, preventable violence.

Parkland survivors have taken to the White House to fight for their lives.

CREDIT: Untitled. Digital Image. UPI. 16 August 2018.

A week after the shooting, Trump held a “listening session,” where Trump promised to pass laws for stricter background checks, and entertained the idea of arming teachers with guns.

Then-Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed a $400 million reform bill that includes a ban on bump stocks.

CREDIT: March For Our Lives

Their efforts are working. Included in the bill is a three-day waiting period on all firearm purchases, and an increase in the purchasing age of rifles from 18 to 21 years old.

Far more action has been taken at a city level.

CREDIT: @Emma4Change / Twitter

Thanks to the Parkland survivors, Colombine survivors now have a new platform to speak up. School districts all over Florida have voted to ban teachers from carrying firearms in schools, in direct protest of Trump’s plan to arm teachers.

On a federal level, the Department of Justice is now considering a ban on bump stocks.

CREDIT: Untitled. Digital Image. UPI. 16 August 2018.

Meanwhile, the House passed a measure that trains students, teachers and law enforcement on how to detect threats of gun violence and how to go about reporting it.

March for Our Lives has published every legislator who has taken money from the National Rifle Association (NRA), and are holding them accountable.

CREDIT: @BillyCorben / Twitter

While the NRA received an increase in donations after the Parkland shooting, they are struggling now. It seems that they’re not able to buy out politicians quite as easily because voting Americans are paying attention.

In fact, the fallout from companies has been even more significant than from our government representatives.

CREDIT: @Shopify / Twitter

Shopify Inc., the online platform for hundreds of thousands of businesses around the world, has banned the sale of semi-automatic firearms (like AR-15s, bump stocks, and silencers) and 3D-printed guns.

“Solely deferring to the law, in this age of political gridlock, is too idealistic and functionally unworkable on the fast-moving internet,” CEO Tobi Lutke wrote in his own post.

Meanwhile, Delta lost a $38 million tax break for disassociating from the NRA.

CREDIT: @wilxTV / Twitter

In a memo to the company, Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Balstian commented, “Our decision was not made for economic gain and our values are not for sale.”

The fact that companies are setting the moral precedent shows how broken our legislative system is.

CREDIT: Untitled. Digital Image. UPI. 16 August 2018.

Partisanship is dividing our country. Marco Rubio is one of the few Republicans to first speak out after the Parkland shooting in support of the students. That said, when asked point blank by a Parkland student if he would continue accepting money from the NRA, Rubio stood his ground. He will continue to accept money from the NRA.

This summer, March for Our Lives went on a “Road to Change,” ending in Newtown.

CREDIT: @Emma4Change / Twitter
Parkland survivors went on a bus tour to get as many young people educated and registered to vote this November. Until 2018, young voters were missing at the polls. This year, they’re leading the nation into a safer future.

READ: Students Staged A National Walk Out For Gun Reform On The 19th Anniversary Of The Columbine Shooting

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