Friday June 22, 2018
The families were released from detention last summer and are living with relatives across the country.
WRITTEN BY ANTHONY OROZCO
BERN TOWNSHIP, PA —
A federal appeals court derailed the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement efforts to deport a group of Central American families who were held in a Berks County detention center for two years.
While the ruling does not ensure the four mothers and four children will remain in the United States, it does demonstrate that the cases of some undocumented immigrants are entitled to review of a judge, according to an attorney representing the families.
“This ruling is important because the court acknowledged the protections for vulnerable children,” said attorney Jacquelyn Kline. “(ICE) admitted in court they are trying to remove these kids who have a protected status.”
The families were apprehended after crossing the border at different times in 2015. They were denied entry into the U.S. and were held in detention for two years, much of that time at the Berks County Residential Center in Bern Township, according to their lawyers.
The families' class-action lawsuit hinged heavily on that the children, ranging in age from 4 to 17, were granted Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, or SIJS.
The status is given to immigrant children deemed to have suffered abuse, abandonment or neglect, and allows them to pursue permanent residency in the country, according to the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services.
The four children also have pending applications for green cards, or permanent residency, Kline said.
Regardless of the status and green card applications, the families were placed in expedited removal process, she said.
The ruling allows for the children to see their application process through. Kline said she believes the children will be granted green cards.
“This isn't really limited to SIJS but is more of a weighing of what's going on in each case,” Kline said. “This is the court recognizing the specific situations of the families.”
The families, whom Kline declined to identify, were released from detention last summer and have since been living with relatives across the country, according to their lawyers.
Though the outlook for the children appears to be hopeful, there are no explicit protections for their parents, Kline said.
ICE could enact a stay of deportation for the mothers, but that remains to be determined, she said.
This ruling also does not directly affect the thousands of asylum-seekers and undocumented immigrants detained in the country.
Court rules families who had been detained in Berks cannot be deported