Left-leaning immigration groups announced multiple legal offensives Wednesday against President Biden and his administration, suing to try to stop ICE movements of illegal immigrants in one case and demanding speedier action on admitting a refugee in another case.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the ICE case, pointed out it was the group’s first immigration lawsuit against the new Biden team — after more than 400 lawsuits against the Trump administration.
The ACLU said it generally is getting more cooperation from Biden officials but said it will take on the new administration when it has to.
“Today’s suit is a challenge to a decision made by the Biden administration — it’s not a Trump holdover. True to form, we will sue any administration — Democrat or Republican — and hold them accountable when they take positions that violate civil liberties and civil rights,” said Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the ACLU. “This may be one of the first lawsuits filed against the Biden administration by advocacy groups, but I’m guessing it won’t be the last.”
The lawsuit says U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is transferring detainees from a New Jersey facility to far-flung locations “in the Deep South,” leaving them far from their families and lawyers.
New Jersey offers lawyers for migrants fighting deportation, the ACLU said, so the decision to transfer them is particularly rough because it removes that free assistance.
The ACLU said it wants the potential deportees released back into New Jersey rather than held elsewhere.
The other legal challenge, which was filed last week but announced Wednesday by the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), is demanding the government welcome a man who supported the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan for years but was denied a spot in a special visa program aimed at helping those who helped America.
IRAP says the man, identified only as “John Doe,” became a target of the Taliban for assisting the U.S.
To verify an application, the government usually tries to check in with the U.S. official who supervised the foreign worker to make sure the person’s account of assistance is true.
In the case of Mr. Doe, his supervisor had verified the help. But then the supervisor was kidnapped by insurgents, and the government ruled that the supervisor’s account could not be reverified.
“Mr. Doe’s life has been upended by his service to the United States; the least our government could do is decide his application in a lawful manner,” said Katie Austin, a lawyer at IRAP.