Newark, NJ- As Congress works to ensure so-called sanctuary cities detain undocumented immigrants for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an appeals court ruled the federal agency must have probable cause to issue immigration detainers and hold individuals they suspect of being undocumented.
On Friday, July 17th, the First Circuit Court of Appeals rule that ICE erred when they detained Ada Morales, a U.S. citizen, on two separate occasions. The appeals courts said in their opinion that it was “clearly established” that ICE must have probable cause to hold an immigrant for the purpose of trying to determine whether they have legal or illegal status, ABC News reported.
At the center of the case is Ada Morales, a native of Guatemala who became a naturalized citizen of the U.S. in 1995, but twice found herself being held on immigration detainers; once in 2004 and once in 2009.
In 2009, Morales was arrested for benefit fraud and was supposed to be released from custody, but she wasn’t. Instead, ICE issued a detainer and she was held for an additional 24 hours. She said she told immigration authorities she was a U.S. citizens, but had recently married and changed her name. Confusion about Morales’ identity played a role in her detention, but immigration detainers have been a long-standing policy that affects thousands of innocent immigrants any of who have the legal authorization to be in the U.S.
The appeals court decision in Morales’ case emphasizes that ICE must have a probable cause to hold an immigrant and it could mean federal agencies will be required to produce a warrant if they want to detain an immigrant longer than their charges dictate.
Just days after the First Circuit Court of Appeals once again established that federal authorities must respect an immigrant’s Fourth Amendment Rights against unreasonable search and seizure, the House passed a bill which would pull federal funding from cities and municipalities that refuse to honor immigration detainers issued by federal authorities.
House lawmakers believe the new law will prevent tragedies like the one that occurred on July 1st in San Francisco. In that incident, an undocumented immigrant with a criminal record who had been deported on several occasions fatally shot a young woman as she walked along a pier.
Kathryn Steinle’s death sparked national outrage after it was revealed the shooter was released from a local jail despite a federal immigration detainer. This fact also angered many members of Congress who want to make certain local law enforcement agencies are fully complying with federal immigration laws by passing this bill.
Morales’ case re-affirms the importance of each immigrant’s constitutional rights. Her case is also a reminder of how something as seemingly minor as a name change can affect an immigrant’s freedom. In matters of immigration, everything is important, even a name change, and could impact an immigrant in a number of ways. As an immigration attorney, I can help you prevent mistakes that will impact your freedom and the timely processing of your immigration petition.
In any legal matter, whether it is criminal or immigration-related, a person’s constitutional rights are vital and should be respected. As both a criminal and immigration attorney located in New Jersey, I understand how important your rights are and will vigorously defend those rights. If you are located in Newark or surrounding areas, contact my office at 973-453-2009 and set up a consultation to discuss your immigration case.