Marriage Interviews Trapping Immigrants
November 15, 2019
A Maryland chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in response to DHS agents’ use of marriage interviews, traditionally a step in the process of attaining legal status for immigrants who are married to U.S. citizens, as a mechanism to entrap those seeking green cards.
The interviews, which have been part of marriage verification efforts by immigration officials since they were enacted during the Obama administration, are being misused and misrepresented by DHS to deport the Green Card-seeking spouse and tear apart mixed-immigration families. The practice is especially egregious since the families impacted are precisely those with the good-faith intention to use appropriate channels to set their immigration status right once and for all.
Details of the Lawsuit
One of the couples at the center of the case feel they were tricked into submitting to the marriage interview by officials dangling a Green Card. Records indicate that the husband had been sentenced to deportation in 2005, after missing an immigration hearing about which he claims he knew nothing. The deportation sentence was issued in absentia, he was never notified of the ruling.
The couple met and married in 2013. They started a life together and became parents of two boys, now 2 and 4. The husband, 41, ran a construction business, and his wife, 31, worked at a local veterinary clinic.
In September 2018, the couple initiated the process of applying for a Green Card to establish the husband as a lawful permanent resident. The process, they were told, would include a marriage-verification procedure that would require the couple to appear at an in-person interview.
At the couple’s May 2019 appointment, moments after the interviewer declared their marriage legitimate, the husband was under arrest and threatened with deportation to his native country of Honduras. His wife was shocked and left to return home to her two young boys without their father.
The father spent the next six weeks being shuttled between detention facilities. An attempt to revisit his case was denied. The situation seemed completely hopeless until the ACLU stepped in and secured an emergency court injunction against his deportation.
Class Action Suit
This case is just one of many. The couple have joined five other couples in a class action suit against the actions of DHS officials at the agency’s Baltimore site. A similar case has come up in Massachusetts as well. The ACLU says it is aware of additional detentions in New York, Virginia, Florida, Illinois, and California.
Vineland Immigration Attorneys at the Law Offices of MC Law Group, LLC Represent Immigrants
Have you or a family member been detained or deported after submitting to a marriage interview while pursuing a Green Card? If you feel you have been tricked into appearing before immigration officials with ulterior motives, you should contact the Vineland immigration attorneys at the Law Offices of MC Law Group, LLC Set up a free consultation with our knowledgeable attorneys by calling us at 215-496-0690 or contact us online. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, the tri-state area, and nationwide.