Is Citizenship and Immigration Services Conspiring With ICE?

The American Civil Liberties Union claims that a key federal immigration agency is colluding with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement to “entrap” people who arrive for routine immigration appointments.

The civil rights firm is using the case of Lilian Calderon, a woman who was arrested by ICE while she was trying to apply for a green card, as the basis for impact litigation to challenge a practice that allegedly violates “constitutional rights to due process and federal immigration laws.”

While you may have heard a lot about ICE lately, it’s not the only government agency involved in immigration issues. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, or USCIS, is the agency that actually handles applications for immigration and residency documents; if you want a green card, for example, you have to work with USCIS throughout the process, which includes background checks, a series of interviews and other procedural matters to confirm eligibility and issue documentation.

In Calderon’s case, she arrived in the United States undocumented as a child, and she was working towards a green card with help from her husband, a U.S. citizen. Initially, the process went well; officers were friendly, and it seemed like her application was proceeding as expected. But then ICE showed up, and the agency started to initiate deportation proceedings – which are currently on hold while the ACLU case works its way through the courts.

According to the ACLU, ICE’s appearance was no accident. The USCIS allegedly coordinated with ICE to alert officials when undocumented people scheduled appointments, making it possible for ICE agents to pick them up at the time of their appointment. The agency would generate a list of people who might be eligible for deportation and send it over to ICE, which would then return a list of people it was interested in picking up.

Worse yet, the ACLU claims, USCIS actually coordinated schedules and calendars with ICE, rescheduling interviews when ICE agents weren’t able to attend, or when they were concerned that timing might attract media attention. This kind of coordination goes well beyond a “friendly tip” from one agency to another — and even “friendly tips” are the subject of criticism from people concerned about civil liberties.

If undocumented people fear turning up at USCIS interviews, it’s impossible for them to pursue a legal path to residency or citizenship, effectively forcing them permanently underground and criminalizing people who want to do “the right thing.”

ICE, meanwhile, freely admits that it works with USCIS, but insists this is perfectly normal — and even necessary. The agency is just doing its job, you see.

This situation highlights the lie behind “why can’t they just follow the law?” People who want to become legal residents or citizens are trying to comply with the law, even though it’s labyrinthine, confusing and racist. But when they attempt to do so, they’re being caught up in sting operations like this one — and awareness of practices like this spreads quickly through immigrant communities.

A betrayal of trust can have long-term consequences; certainly immigrants in the Boston area, where Calderon was picked up, are going to be much more hesitant about trusting government officials.

That doesn’t just include USCIS. When representatives of the government turn into enemies, it discourages people from reporting crimes to law enforcement, or whistleblowing about health and safety violations to government agencies charged with protecting the public interest. The ripple effect of this case could have a lasting reach.

Photo credit: Master Steve Rapport/Creative Commons

70 comments

Chad Anderson
Chad Anderson3 months ago

Thank you.

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Paul B
Paul B5 months ago

IMO, and has been evidenced quite often, there is more to the story than is being reported here. ICE must have had some other reason for picking her up, like some kind of criminal warrant or otherwise. They don't waste their valuable time just picking up random illegals.
Just like most of the media ignored the fact that the guy who was arrested taking his wife to hospital for c-section, failed to mention he was wanted for murder. and not the only time the news neglects to mention important "OTHER" facts that would impact the story.

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Danuta W
Danuta W5 months ago

Thanks for sharing

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Karen H
Karen H5 months ago

People keep bitching and moaning about "illegals" subverting the system and "not following the rules", but it's apparent these same people don't care if our government agencies subvert the system and don't follow the rules. Glad I never had to face you in the school playground when I was a kid.

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Leo Custer
Leo C5 months ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Margie FOURIE
Margie FOURIE5 months ago

Dont people read where they can or cant be in this world. Visas usually have a time limit.

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Rhoberta E
Rhoberta E5 months ago

david f
Grow up !!
Your hero may be coming for more "funds" (not that he hasn't pilfered hundreds of thousands already from the US taxpayer.) Maybe you can visit trump, Cohen and Manafort in jail and take them a "venison burger" instead of your usual "nothing burger"

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David F
David F5 months ago

Yes Mrs. RHoberta, you are absolutely correct, the little detail of the dad being arrested on a murder warrant was not available to the victims of Fake News when you read it.

Rest assured, every fake news outlet knew why the dad was arrested, they either censored it completely, or put it on the 15th page behind their headlines. As usual, you did not know until I informed you, just read my previous post .

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Rhoberta E
Rhoberta E5 months ago

david f
Do you feel better now that you have made a fool of yourself from MY original post that PLAINLY stated that at the time of my FIRST post all the information was not available.
But no ! You have to ramble on like a complete jerk about fake news and intimate that YOU are the ONLY member here that reads or watches or listens to the "REAL" news.
Well listen, david you have been shown to be wrong on MANY occasions and what you have done here is just once more made yourself look petty and uninformed !!!

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Brandy S
Brandy S5 months ago

Thanks.

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