SANTA ANA (CNS) - The American Civil Liberties Union today filed a federal lawsuit in Santa Ana seeking to block an Immigration and Customs Enforcement plan to transfer hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Orange County's jails to a facility out of state.
The ACLU's suit, which seeks class action status, also seeks a preliminary injunction to block the plan to transfer the detainees, triggered by Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes' March 27 announcement to terminate his agreement with ICE to provide jail beds for the undocumented immigrants.
Barnes has terminated the contract with ICE to move forward with plans to accommodate the needs of a rapidly expanding number of inmates with mental health issues.
According to the ACLU lawsuit, “transferring these immigrants hundreds or thousands of miles away will make it exceedingly difficult for the immigrants to maintain their legal representation or otherwise access the courts.”
The ACLU also claims that the transfers outside of Southern California are “unnecessary; ICE has legal authority to release many of these individuals and can transfer the rest to a large facility with the Southern California area, at Adelanto.”
The ACLU claim argues that the decision to place the detainees outside of Southern California “violates federal statutory and constitutional law” because, “The 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.”
The lawsuit further argues that the detainees “rely on family members to perform many tasks that attorneys would otherwise perform.”
Transferring the undocumented immigrants away from the region would also violate the federal agency's own policy because it only allows for far- flung transfers when necessary, the ACLU argued.