The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration Wednesday in the first legal challenge of the administration’s policy on illegal immigration.
ACLU’s federal class-action lawsuit filed in New Jersey “seeks to immediately block the long-distance transfer” of Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees from a New Jersey jail, according to an ACLU news release.
The ACLU — which in recent years has shifted its focus from defending constitutional rights to promoting leftist causes — is trying to prevent detainees from being transferred away from their families and attorneys in New Jersey as the state appears to be in the process of passing a bill that would prohibit federal immigration detainees from being housed in local and state correctional facilities, The Hill reported.
The Essex County jail ended its contract with ICE to house detainees and declared that detainees still in its custody would be moved, NorthJersey.com reported Wednesday.
“Transferring hundreds of people far away from their families and attorneys violates the rights and dignity of New Jerseyans, and we’re calling on the courts to stop this policy of gratuitous cruelty,” ACLU-NJ Executive Director Amol Sinha said in a statement.
“We have a duty to allow people to await their immigration proceedings in communities rather than in detention, to avoid disrupting lives and depriving people of their constitutional rights,” Sinha said.
The ACLU argued that transferring the detainees could lead to their ongoing immigration cases being heard in “jurisdictions with less favorable case law.”
Some ICE detainees from the Essex County jail already have been transferred to Georgia and Nevada, according to The Hill.
“True to form, we will sue any administration — Democrat or Republican — and hold them accountable when they take positions that violate civil liberties and civil rights,” ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero said in a statement.
“This may be one of the first lawsuits filed against the Biden administration by advocacy groups, but I’m guessing it won’t be the last,” Romero said
Referring to President Joe Biden and his predecessor, Donald Trump, Romero noted the lawsuit was in response to “a decision made by the Biden administration — it’s not a Trump hold-over.”
“We sued the Trump administration over 400 times, and the Biden administration is trying to resolve many of those suits,” he said.
The ACLU’s complaint reads, “Transferring Plaintiff and the members of the class to distant locations that are inaccessible to counsel violates federal constitutional and statutory law.”
“The Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution does not permit the government to effectively sever the attorney-client relationship by transferring individuals hundreds or thousands of miles away from their attorneys while their cases remain pending,” it says.
“In the first 100 days of his administration, President Biden has often hit the right notes and his administration has begun to unwind some of the most noxious aspects of Trump’s legacy,” the ACLU reported.
“But on far too many issues, the Biden administration has continued or only temporarily paused Trump policies — at the risk of perpetuating a new, Trumpian normal, with devastating human costs.”