Federal prosecutors continue to refuse to release data on immigration detainees

Five years ago the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) asked the government to deliver documents containing information about thousands of immigrant detainees nationwide. Just now, federal prosecutors are saying they cannot meet the judge’s demands to deliver these documents. Meanwhile, the immigrants who are being held in detention facilities may or may not be rightfully detained there.

ACLU lawsuit ruling not being followed by government attorneys

The ACLU filed a lawsuit in 2011 seeking documents to be released from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The Freedom of Information Act lawsuit should have given them access to thousands of documents within a matter of months. However, it has been years and the majority of these documents are still hidden.

The ACLU is questioning this practice and whether or not proper legal procedures are being taken when determining who is being detained. According to the organization’s press release, they claim that there has been a significant increase in the number of immigrants detained within the past few years and many are not even serving criminal sentences.

Government claims the deadline is too soon

The judge who ruled on the case says the government’s continued refusal to release these documents has a detrimental effect not only on the immigration system they are working on reforming, but also on the lives of those who should or should not be detained. There are thousands of immigrants, some who are applicants for asylum, who are held in jails for over six months.

The judge presiding over the case called out the government for stopping the release of documents since September 9th. While the government’s comments on the situation have been minimal, they did say in a letter that it is “not feasible” to produce documents for over 22,000 individuals in such a short amount of time.

In an attempt to protect the rights of individuals who are in this country, these documents are crucial to help establish whether or not detainees are being rightfully held and for the correct amount of time. According to a Supreme Court ruling in 2001, “immigrants are supposed to be deported or released within about six months.” The ACLU will continue to pressure the government to release these files for oversight.

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