Aug. 27, 2014 (San Diego) The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) achieved a legal victory. The litigation lasted just over a year, but the victory means that non citizens cannot be forced to sign away their rights at detention facilities by signing voluntary return papers.
This means that they are sent to their home countries without seeing a judge, even when they are eligible to remain in the United States. Such as the case of Marta Mendoza who had U.S. born children, and due to this was eligible to stay in the United States. She was one of the plaintiffs in the class action suit.
The settlement reached the following agreements between the organization and federal Authorities:
- Provide detailed information—in writing, orally, and through a 1-800 hotline—regarding the consequences of taking “voluntary return” to non-citizens asked to choose between “voluntary return” and a hearing before a judge;
- Cease “pre-checking” the box selecting “voluntary return” on the forms the agencies provide to non-citizens;
- Permit non-citizens to use a working phone, provide them with a list of legal service providers, and allow them two hours to reach someone before deciding whether to accept “voluntary return”;
- Provide lawyers meaningful access to clients detained by Border Patrol or ICE;
- Cease pressuring or coercing individuals to accept “voluntary return”;
- Allow ACLU attorneys to monitor compliance with the settlement agreement for three years.
Those who were part of the lawsuit have been able to come back to the United States and reunified with their families.
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