El Paso ICE acting director facing lawsuit over immigration detention operations

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The American Civil Liberties Union sued U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for allegedly detaining asylum seekers in order to deter others from seeking refuge in the United States, according to court documents.

The acting director of the El Paso ICE field office, William P. Joyce, is also being sued in his official capacity for ICE detention policies and operations in the El Paso District, which covers facilities in New Mexico, according to the complaint.

Joyce is one of several ICE directors being sued across the nation.

The complaint states that in El Paso, 349 parole requests were made between February and September 2017 and all of the requests were denied.

Three El Paso cases are included in the nationwide lawsuit, according to Carlos Spector, immigration attorney.

One of the local cases refers to a married couple. The couple was seeking asylum after fleeing a cartel in Mexico that sought to take their home, cattle and farm, says the complaint.

The couple arrived in the U.S. in December 2017 and asylum officers found each had a credible fear of persecution. The couple was referred to removal proceedings, says the complaint.

In February 2018, the complaint states, the El Paso ICE office denied the couple’s requests for parole even though the couple established their identities and said they had a person in the U.S. who could host them.

The woman is currently detained at the El Paso processing center. The man was separated from his wife and is detained at the Otero County Processing Center in Chaparral, New Mexico.

All of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit are asylum seekers who traveled to the U.S. with credible fear of persecution, and were referred for immigration proceedings to decide their asylum claims, the complaint states.

The plaintiffs have sponsors in the U.S. who can provide them housing, ensure the plaintiffs attend immigration court and show no sign of a criminal or violent background, according to the complaint.

KFOX14 asked ICE for comment on the lawsuit and confirmation on the number of cases denied locally. An ICE spokeswoman said via email, “It’s ICE policy not to comment on pending litigation.”

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