It is no hidden secret that the H-1B visa denials have gone upbecause of the several policies of the Trump administration. What comes as a surprise is the extent to which this administration is going to enforce its anti-immigrant stance.
In a latest revelation by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), it was found that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) was coordinating with America’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to alert the latter on immigrants eligible for deportation showed up for their visa interviews with USCIS.
This development is bound to send shockwaves in the tech community especially the scores of Indian techies who need to apply for their visa renewal process.
This latest incident pertains to one Lilian Calderon and her husband Luis Gordillo. Ms. Calderon, a 30 years old immigrant from Guatemala who came to the United States when she was just 3 years old. With the big American dream in her eyes, she visited the USCIS office in Rhode Island to initiate the process of becoming a legal permanent resident of America. To her surprise, moments after she completed her interview with USCIS, she was arrested by ICE and sent to a detention facility in Boston.
A series of tweets by ACLU shed light on what exactly happened, and what emerges as a part of a bigger conspiracy against unsuspecting immigrants.
All Ms. Calderon needed to do during this USCIS interview was to prove her marriage to her husband Luis Gordillo (legal American citizen). She had come prepared for this interview with all the necessary documents that would have cleared her path to a U.S. Green Card and given her a legal resident status. ICE decided to show up moments after her USCIS interview ended and the 30-year old mother of two was handcuffed and detained by authorities for nearly a month, prompting ACLU to file a class-action lawsuit.
The ACLU of Massachusetts reveals that at least 17 people in 2018 including Ms. Calderon, are victims of what it calls this “bait and switch” operation. The ACLU argues in its lawsuit that such a misdemeanour violates basic rights i.e. the right to a due process and is contravening to the Immigration Nationality Act.
“The government created this path for them to seek a green card,” Matthew Segal, legal director of the ACLU of Massachusetts, told the Associated Press. “The government can’t create that path and then arrest folks for following that path.”
Here’s what Segal tweeted on this issue:
The connivance between USCIS and ICE is made clear through several leaked emails between both the agencies. These emails are damning evidence on how USCIS employees were willing to schedule interviews with certain married couples keeping the availability of ICE agents into consideration. When these unsuspecting immigrants and/or their spouses turned up for these interviews, ICE would be alerted by USCIS and the arrests would happen. In one of the emails, an ICE agent also appears to prefer “scheduling the arrests” to avoid the attention of the media. Here is what the email exchange reveals:
“As far as scheduling goes, I would prefer not to do them all at one time as it is not only a strain on our ability to transport and process several arrests at once, but it also has the potential to be a trigger for negative media interest, as we have seen in the past,” Andrew Graham, an ICE officer in the fugitive operations division, wrote in an October 2017 email included in court documents. “If you have the availability to schedule one or two at a time and spread them apart, that works best for us.”
The outcome of these revelations would depend on how the U.S. court where the federal government has filed a motion to dismiss the ACLU lawsuit adjudicates on the matter. We will keep you posted on the developments.