|By Marketwired .||
|August 27, 2014 01:06 PM EDT||
SAN DIEGO, CA -- (Marketwired) -- 08/27/14 -- Cooley LLP and the ACLU today announced an historic settlement in a class action lawsuit, Lopez-Venegas v. Johnson, that alleged deceptive and coercive immigration practices by immigration enforcement officers. Significant reforms to the process known as "voluntary departure" are in effect immediately, including major revisions to the information immigration officers must disclose to people choosing between voluntary departure and a hearing before an immigration judge. The settlement also includes class provisions that, if approved by the court, would allow certain Mexican nationals who have been expelled from Southern California pursuant to flawed voluntary departure procedures over the last several years to seek to reunite with their families here.
The settlement relates to a lawsuit filed in June 2013 in which nine Mexican nationals and three organizations that work with immigrants challenged deceptive tactics used by Border Patrol agents and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers to convince the plaintiffs to sign their own expulsion orders. All of the plaintiffs would have had strong claims to remain in the United States had they gone before an immigration judge instead of being pressured to choose voluntary departure.
"The United States derives its core strength from embracing the notions of fairness and due process under our Constitution," said Darcie Tilly, an associate in Cooley LLP's San Diego office, who worked on the project with the ACLU. "Therefore, we are heartened that this lawsuit should lead to the cessation of these forced 'voluntary departures,' the improvement of our critical border patrol policies and practices, and if approved by the court, a procedure for the reunification of aggrieved individuals with their families." Cooley provided its services as co-counsel in this groundbreaking matter on a pro bono basis.
The class action lawsuit was filed by the ACLU Foundation of San Diego & Imperial Counties, the ACLU of Southern California, the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project, and Cooley on behalf of the aforementioned individual plaintiffs and the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, the Pomona Economic Opportunity Center, and the San Bernardino Community Service Center.
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