Monday, August 15, 2011

Immigration group sues to halt detentions

Immigration group sues to halt detentions

A Chicago immigration group has filed a class-action lawsuit in federal court against the Department of Homeland Security, charging that its practice of asking local police to detain immigrants through immigration detainers when there's no evidence of illegal activity is unconstitutional.

An immigration detainer, a key component of DHS' Secure Communities program, is a request from DHS' Immigration and Customs Enforcement to another law enforcement agency to keep individuals in custody so that ICE can investigate their immigration status and potentially take over custody.

"What the lawsuit alleges is that in the vast majority of cases with individuals who have detainers lodged against them, basically ICE says to the locals, 'We are instructing you to detain (an individual) after (your) authority has expired because we have initiated an investigation,'" said Mark Fleming, litigation coordinator for the National Immigrant Justice Center, the group that filed the lawsuit.

Chris Newman, legal director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, said, "The Secure Communities program is a catastrophe. It has entangled local police … to the detriment of civil rights. Frankly it has been leading to the 'Arizonafication' of the country."

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