Married Couples Seek Cert. In Immigrant Spouse Challenge

Several married couples who allege the government is unlawfully trying to detain and deport immigrant spouses who are seeking permanent residency and are married to U.S. citizens asked Monday that a Massachusetts federal court certify a class and temporarily bar the practice.

The couples say they adequately represent a class of individuals seeking lawful permanent resident status who are being “systematically” targeted with final orders of removal by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, in conflict with rules within the agency’s own department, according to memorandums supporting its motions this week.

The court should enter a temporary restraining order that instructs the federal government against moving to detain or deport individuals participating in the green card process, and the government should also comply with a 2016 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services rule that protects immigrant spouses for most of this process, the petitioners argued. Despite the existing rule, ICE has adopted its own policy and seeks to remove the spouses instead, according to the memorandums.

“By targeting individuals for arrest when they appear at USCIS interviews as part of the first step in the process, ICE improperly transforms the 2016 provisional waiver regulations into a carefully laid trap,” one memorandum reads. “Without intervention by this court, respondents will continue to illegally detain and remove class members in contravention of the 2016 regulations and relevant immigration statutes.”

Last month, the federal government urged the court to toss the case, arguing that legal precedent bars courts from considering habeas petitions that challenge the U.S. Department of Homeland Security‘s authority to implement removal orders and because the immigrants may still petition for unlawful presence waivers should they be deported and be outside the United States.