Updated 12:47 PM EDT, Thu, Oct 21, 2021

Civil Rights Groups Suing ICE to Stop Expedited Deportations of Immigrants

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A number of civil rights groups have filed a lawsuit against the federal immigration agency responsible for expediting deportations of Central Americans, claiming that they are denying due process to the women and children who are being detained.

The lawsuit stems around the expedited deportations of immigrant detainees in the isolated town of Artesia, New Mexico. The groups -- which include the American Civil Liberties Union -- want U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to change policies that allow for the quick deportation of immigrants without attorneys.

The women and children involved in the rush for deportation are not getting a fair chance to present their cases for asylum, according to the lawsuit, and it has essentially turned Artesia into a "deportation mill."

According to the suit, barriers in place prevent Central American immigrants from having lawyers, and the people at risk -- women and children -- have sought refuge in the United States due to death threats from street gangs -- known as "join or die" -- severe poverty, lack of education, and staggering rates of violence in their home nations.

"These mothers and their children have sought refuge in the United States after fleeing for their lives from threats of death and violence in their home countries," said Cecillia Wang, director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project. "U.S. law guarantees them a fair opportunity to seek asylum. Yet, the government's policy violates that basic law and core American values — we do not send people who are seeking asylum back into harm's way. We should not sacrifice fairness for speed in life-or-death situations."

The numbers of expedited deportations happening from the isolated location in Arizona is staggering; immigration officials have deported almost 300 Central American women and children, most of whom were caught crossing the border from Mexico illegally in recent months.

According to the Times, more than 1,000 women and children remain in two family detention facilities in Arizona -- 536 in Artesia and 532 in Karnes.

Rather than push for rapid deportation of the remaining immigrants, the groups involved in the suit -- the ACLU, The American Immigration Council, the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, and National Immigration Law Center -- would like for ICE to find ways to keep the women and children in the U.S., at least until they've had due process to allow for a fair trial.

More than 60,000 unaccompanied minors have arrived at the border since last October. They tend to turn themselves into the Border Patrol once they get to the border, according to reports.

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