The Southern Poverty Law Center is suing the federal government for the release of records on the arrests of undocumented immigrants in Georgia, North Carolina and Texas. The Center alleges that immigration officials detained more than 100 women and children from Central America earlier this year.
The Southern Poverty Law Center Sues DHS and ICE
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court in Georgia by Southern Poverty Law Center, saying that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICA) are in violation of public records laws by not releasing information regarding the arrests.
The Center claims that immigration officials used deceptive practices to gain entry to the homes and apartments they raided, resulting in women and children being placed in a Dilley, Texas detention center through unconstitutional actions.
The detained immigrants are among tens of thousands of Central Americans who arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border in the summer of 2014. Most were requesting political asylum. The influx of people forced the DHS to open emergency shelters and Border Patrol facilities.
The Center submitted its request in January, but no records have been released. The lawsuit states, “It has now been over six months since Plaintiff submitted its FOIA request, and defendants have failed to produce any records or provide a substantive response to the request. Plaintiff has now therefore exhausted its administrative remedies with respect to the FOIA request.”
Alleged Deceptive Tactics of Immigration Officials
Immigration officials have long been accused of using deceptive tactics to get people to open their doors and allow them inside residences. Immigrants cite that the federal agents pose as local police officers looking for a suspected criminal and showing photos of an African American man.
Immigration officials typically deny the use of deception, but the Southern Poverty Law Center claims that when immigrants ask for warrants, their requests were ignored and they were threatened to be quiet.
In a statement to the press, Lisa Graybill – the Center’s deputy legal director – said, “There are serious questions about whether ICE agents’ conduct during these raids violated the Constitution. We cannot allow ICE, the nation’s largest law enforcement agency, to avoid accountability and violate the federal law by withholding these records.”
The lawsuit claims that the raids by the ICE have created widespread fear in immigrant communities, making it hard for people to go to school, work, and engage in daily activities.
The law gives the ICE 20 days and a 10-day extension to determine whether or not it will comply with the demands of the lawsuit, and to notify the filer of the request about the decision.
If someone you know is being detained, and is in need of legal assistance, contact Lyttle Law Firm today. We’re here to help you and your family members get through any immigration issues that may arise, both today and tomorrow!