There are six couples involved in a class action lawsuit accusing Federal agents of luring families to marriage interviews in Baltimore, Maryland, only to detain the immigrant spouse and place him or her in removal proceedings. Historical practice has been for USCIS to permit these interviews to occur without fear of arrest because there is an understanding that the immigrants are attempting to follow the law and qualify for available, legal relief.  Unfortunately, it appears that USCIS is no longer honoring this practice.

Federal regulations allow U.S. citizens to try to legalize the status of spouses who have been living in the country without authorization, usually through a waiver process that involves detailing how removal of the immigrant will result in extreme hardship to a qualifying relative (e.g., a U.S. citizen spouse). Records show that USCIS has approved 23,253 provisional unlawful presence waivers (Form I-601A)

But, the American Civil Liberties Union says a growing number of immigration officers have “cruelly twisted” the rules by detaining immigrant spouses following interviews for marriage-based visas. The ACLU is pursuing a similar complaint in Massachusetts and says dozens of detentions also have happened at field offices in New York, Virginia, Florida, Illinois, and California.

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