A number of arrests during immigration interviews are being reported in multiple states across the U.S.
Maria and Oscar Hernandez Miranda, who married in 2015, attended their marriage interview at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services offices in Miami as part of Oscar’s immigration application, when the interview was interrupted, the Miami Herald reported.
Maria was asked to step out of the office, the Herald says, and was told after 20 minutes of waiting that her husband had been arrested by ICE, due to a pending deportation order. Oscar has been held at an immigration detention center in Broward County and can be deported at any time, according to the report.
Lisa Lehner, a senior litigation attorney with Americans for Immigrant Justice confirmed to CNN that at least four other similar arrests have taken place in the Miami area in the past month. In each case, the person arrested was an immigrant with pending deportation orders against them, married to a U.S. citizen, and seeking a provisional waiver.
“We were very confident because we (were) going through the path we need to take to have him get his papers,” Maria told CNN. The couple brought a photo album with photos of their wedding and of their family, along with a marriage certificate and joint bank statement, as proof of their relationship. Interviews like this are a routine process for immigrants married to US citizens seeking residency.
Arrests like this one have been reported in other states, as well. In Massachusetts, five couples are at the center of a federal lawsuit after ICE agents arrested and detained spouses applying to become residents. At the time of arrest, two of the couples were attending their marriage interviews.
The ACLU has confirmed other similar arrests in New York City and in Rhode Island, where a 30-year-old woman—who came to the U.S. from Guatemala without documentation when she was 3—was arrested by ICE after a “quick and painless” interview with USCIS. Emails obtained by the ACLU, show that USCIS had been coordinating with ICE and alerting the agency when immigrants eligible for deportation showed up for their interviews, according to the Washington Post.
“This practice is illegal throughout the country, for the reasons we have articulated on behalf of our clients, and for the reasons stated in Judge Wolf’s recent order denying the government’s motion to dismiss,” Matt Segal, an ACLU attorney told CNN. Segal referred to a ruling in August by U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf who determined that ICE “may not order the removal of an alien pursuing a provisional waiver solely on the basis that he or she is subject to a final order of removal.”