ICE Abuse of Voluntary Departure may effect thousands.
LOS ANGELES — Nine Mexican immigrants who agreed to be deported from the United States during the last five years will be allowed to return to fight their expulsions under an agreement announced Wednesday that could also include other Mexicans who consented to leave.
In a lawsuit against the federal government brought last year, the American Civil Liberties Union argued that enforcement agents had coerced the nine into accepting a type of removal known as voluntary return by failing to advise them of their rights or warn them of the consequences. After deportation, most immigrants living here without papers cannot legally come back for at least three years and often as long as a decade.
The immigrants contended they had strong cases for staying and would have made them in court if they had known they had that option. They said agents gave them “gross misinformation” about their choices and pressured them to sign removal papers, resulting in departures that were anything but voluntary.
In the agreement, federal officials did not admit any wrongdoing but agreed to alter the practices of border and enforcement agents to have them inform immigrants more thoroughly about their rights and about the obstacles to returning if they leave.
The authorities “use voluntary return as an option for individuals who may request to be returned home in lieu of removal proceedings, but in no case is coercion or deception tolerated,” said Virginia Kice, a spokeswoman in California for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, in a statement on Wednesday.