You May Know a Class Action Member! –
On February 25, 2015 a settlement in the case of Lopez-Venegas v. Johnson was approved by a federal judge, ending the deceitful immigration practice of federal immigration officers pressuring, coercing, or misinforming non-citizens to sign documents to return to their country and waive their right to appear before an immigration judge. This is an abuse of the voluntary return process and violated fundamental Constitutional rights.
Effective immediately, immigration agencies are required to make concrete changes in how they handle voluntary return procedures.
As a result of the settlement, both the Border Patrol and ICE must now:
- Absolutely refrain from pressuring or coercing any immigrant to accept a voluntary return.
- Give each immigrant detailed information about voluntary return.
- Maintain a 1-800 hot-line detailing individual rights and consequences of voluntary return.
- Absolutely refrain from pre-checking the box selecting voluntary return on the signature form.
- Allow each immigrant to use a phone, provide each individual with a list of legal services agencies and allow each immigrant two hours to reach someone before that immigrant must decide whether to take the voluntary return.
- Provide attorney’s meaningful access to clients detained by Border Patrol or ICE.
A Class Member of this settlement will be permitted to return to the U.S. in the same legal status before they were coerced into taking voluntary return. To be a class action member, all of the following three criteria must be met:
- The person must have taken a voluntary return in Southern California and have been expelled to Mexico between June 1, 2009 and August 28, 2014.
- Prior to the voluntary return, the person would have fallen into one of the following four categories: a) was able to immediately adjust their status based on an immediate relative, b) was the beneficiary of a properly filed petition to adjust status filed by their relative, c) would have satisfied the non-discretionary factors for cancellation of removal, or d) would have satisfied the factors set out in the memorandum establishing the DACA program.
- The person must, at the time of applying to be a class member, be both a) physically in Mexico, and b) subject to either the three or ten-year admissibility bar under the immigration laws.
Qualifying as a class member is not the same as receiving lawful immigration status. Only the ACLU and Approved Service Providers are authorized to submit the class action membership applications. The entire consultation and approval process is free. For more information, please call the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties at 619-398-4189 (from the U.S.), or 01-800-681-6917 (from Mexico).
For more information, please see the links below:
The legal document is available here: https://www.aclu.org/legal-document/lopez-venegas-v-johnson-settlement?redirect=immigrants-rights/lopez-venegas-v-johnson-settlement
News coverage with the lead plaintiff: