[JURIST] The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] on Tuesday filed a lawsuit [ACLU report] in a Los Angeles federal court, alleging that Border Patrol and immigration officers are guilty of coercing hundreds, or possibly thousands of Mexican nationals into signing their own deportation documents and forfeiting their right to a fair hearing before an immigration judge. The complaint [text, PDF] alleges that immigration officers in Southern California are misusing a process known as “voluntary departure” by wrongly telling individuals that they will be incarcerated for months if they do not sign deportation documents. Individuals have also been told that after signing these documents and returning to Mexico they can easily “fix” their papers and may then return to the US. The lawsuit seeks class action status, and requests that authorities revamp procedures [AP report] to, among other things, fully explain the consequences individuals will face upon agreeing to leave the country.
This lawsuit is the most recent of those filed by the ACLU on behalf of immigrants facing a variety of allegedly unconstitutional state immigration practices. In December the ACLU filed a lawsuit challenging an Arizona governor’s executive order [JURIST report] that prevented certain immigrants from obtaining driver’s licenses. In November the ACLU filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of New Jersey immigrants [JURIST report] that challenged the state’s mandatory detention procedures. Earlier in 2012 the ACLU reported that certain immigrant detention centers in Arizona and Georgia [JURIST reports] were unsanitary, failed to give inmates proper access to medical treatment and denied inmates due process.