June 4, 2013
The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit against the federal government Tuesday over its voluntary departures program, through which the group alleges officials often use misinformation to pressure undocumented immigrants to sign away their rights before being forced out of the country.
The program helps the government rack up removals of undocumented immigrants, which reached a record of more than 400,000 last year. But the policy works differently than the usual broader detention and removal process: Border patrol or immigration agents give detained unauthorized immigrants the option to sign a form that will lead to their immediate removal — sometimes within hours.
For most, that means leaving the country before they can talk to a lawyer, see their family or, the ACLU argues, receive necessary information that would help them realize they have other options.