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DHS Settles Lawsuit over Coerced Voluntary Departures
In August, the Department of Homeland Security agreed to settle a lawsuit filed on behalf of nine Mexican citizens alleging they were forced to “voluntarily” depart the country instead of having a hearing before an immigration judge.
According to the complaint, Border Patrol agents and ICE officers pressured hundreds if not thousands of noncitizens apprehended in southern California to forgo their right to a hearing before an IJ. By “voluntarily” departing the country, noncitizens would forgo opportunities to seek relief from removal and would unwittingly trigger bars to their future admission based on prior periods of unlawful presence.
Among other terms of the settlement, DHS must provide oral and written notification of the consequences of accepting voluntary departure, allow noncitizens two hours to reach an attorney or family member by phone before deciding whether to accept a voluntary return, and allow ACLU attorneys to monitor the Department’s compliance with the settlement agreements for three years. The plaintiffs named in the compliant will also be permitted to return to the United States for a hearing before an IJ.
The suit is Lopez-Venegas v. Johnson, 13-3972 (S.D. Cal.).
Social Security Administration Switches Verification Tools for Refugees
Effective August 3, 2014, the Social Security Administration no longer verifies refugee status through the Worldwide Refugee Admission Processing System. The agency instead uses the Social Security Number Application Process and the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements database.
[This is an excerpt from the Sept. 15, 2014, issue of Bender's Immigration Bulletin.]
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