United States Federal Judge John A. Kronstadt, who was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2010, approved class provisions of a settlement on Feb. 26, which will allow repatriated undocumented immigrants to return back to the United States.
A lawsuit was brought before the court by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in June 2013. The suit, Lopez-Venegas v. Johnson, alleged that the plaintiffs were wrongfully expelled from the United States and were coerced into signing documents which gave away their right to see an immigration judge, according to the ACLU.
The settlement of the Lopez-Venegas case allowed nine plaintiffs to return to their families in the United States in August 2014. The plaintiffs were given the same legal status they had before signing the documents.
Isidora Lopez-Venegas, a plaintiff in the case, signed a voluntary return form in 2011 because she was threatened that if she did not, her 10-year-old autistic son would be sent to a foster home. She was immediately sent back to Mexico with her son.
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“My expulsion from the United States was incredibly difficult for my family. I know that many others have been harmed by the government’s ‘voluntary return’ practices and I’m happy that today their dream of returning home and hugging their family can come true, like mine did,” Lopez-Venegas said, as reported by the ACLU.
This most current settlement will allow the ACLU and the three organizational plaintiffs — the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), the Pomona Economic Opportunity Center, and the San Bernardino Community Service Center — to find class members in Mexico and return them to the United States.
“We're happy because this settlement will bring back some of the individuals who were lost and reunite them with their loved ones and put them back on their path for a better life,” said Fernando Romero, executive director of the Pomona Economic Opportunity Center.
Gabriela Rivera, staff attorney of the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties, added, “Now we can begin the process of reuniting some of the families who could have remained together in the United States but were driven apart by government practices that rely upon misinformation, deception, and coercion.”
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Sources: ACLU / Photo: WikiCommons