Written by Haroon Saqib
Despite promises to change its detention and deportation policies to focus on convicted dangerous felons, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) continues to waste to detain people who are merely accused of minor violations.
SCSJ staff attorney Marty Rosenbluth recently defended the case of S.O., an immigrant woman who was arrested by local police after a minor domestic quarrel that happened to be witnessed by a law enforcement official. S.O. had been living in the United States for over 10 years and was married to a U.S. citizen.
A local court judge agreed that she was not a threat and decided to release her with an oral promise to return to court for her pending trial. Despite this, ICE stepped in by taking custody of S.O. An immigration judge, contradicting the local court, set an extremely high bond and, when her husband could not pay it, she had to remain in detention awaiting deportation.
This case raises serious questions about whether ICE is meeting its promise to focus its detention and deportation efforts on dangerous criminals, and its assurance that it would pursue deportation only after a person is convicted of a crime in court. Rosenbluth raised this issue at a recent White House meeting on immigration reform and was able to use the case as a real example of how ICE was not keeping its promises.
Fortunately, Rosenbluth was recently able to win S.O.’s release from an Alabama detention facility. However, she was released late in the day without any money or transportation to return to her home in North Carolina. A friend of SCSJ was fortunately able to meet her and make sure he arrived home safely.
Still, her husband was ecstatic and left SCSJ a heartwarming message.
This recent success provides support that our efforts are changing the immigration rights landscape, even though ICE is dragging its feet on reform.
“This case is a powerful example of the strength behind SCSJ’s community lawyering model of combining advocacy with legal representation,” says Rosenbluth.