U.S. border patrol says it will change key aspects of how it deals with some Mexican nationals who face deportation in Southern California. The changes will affect situations known as 'voluntary departure,' when an undocumented immigrant chooses to be removed rather than contest deportation.
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The changes include providing more information on the right to an immigration hearing and giving those in custody a list of legal services.
It's the result of a settlement after a 2013 lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union. For more, we're joined by NPR reporter John Burnett.
According to the ACLU, the terms of the settlement include the following:
- That information will be provided — in writing, orally, and through a 1-800 hotline — regarding the consequences of taking “voluntary return” to non-citizens asked to choose between voluntary return and a hearing before a judge;
- Agencies will cease “pre-checking” the box selecting “voluntary return” on the forms they provide to non-citizens;
- Non-citizens will be allowed to use a working phone, provides with a list of legal service providers, and allowed two hours to reach someone before deciding whether to accept voluntary return;
- Lawyers will be provided meaningful access to clients detained by Border Patrol or ICE;
- Individuals will no longer be pressured or coerced to accept voluntary return;
- ACLU attorneys will be allowed to monitor compliance with the settlement agreement for three years.
In response to the settlement, the Department of Homeland Security said in an email to Take Two that "in no case is coercion or deception tolerated" at the agency. The full statement:
“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) use voluntary return as an option for individuals who may request to be returned home in lieu of removal proceedings, but in no case is coercion or deception tolerated. In an effort to address the issues raised in this litigation, both agencies have agreed to supplement their existing procedures to ensure that foreign nationals fully comprehend the potential consequences of returning voluntarily to Mexico.”