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ACLU takes action over the treatment of immigrants

Immigration was a hot-button topic during the 2016 presidential primary campaigns held in South Carolina and many other states. While the candidates continue to debate about how the nation's borders could best be managed, American Civil Liberties Union lawyers in two states have taken action against the federal government over the treatment of illegal immigrants. While the filings were both made on April 6, the ACLU say that they are not connected.

In New Mexico, an ACLU administrative complaint filed with the Department of Homeland Security accused Border Patrol agents of seizing the property of immigrants taken into custody near the U.S.-Mexico border. The complaint alleges that before being sent back to Mexico, immigrants were coerced into signing seizure documents and forced to hand over their money, jewelry and other valuables. The advocacy group claims that this type of seizure placed immigrants in harm's way on 26 occasions.

A lawsuit filed by ACLU attorneys in California calls on immigration judges and deportation agents to consider the financial situation of immigrants when setting their bonds. Advocates say that more than 100 people are being detained in immigration facilities simply for being poor. These immigrants have been granted bonds but lack the funds that are necessary to secure their release.

Those who come to America to escape persecution in their home countries either from the government or a religious or ethnic group may apply for admission into the United States, and this provision applies even if they entered the country illegally or have remained on expired visas. However the regulations concerning asylum seekers are complicated, and the process may seem daunting to those already wary of authority. Experienced immigration attorneys may assist asylum seekers by helping them to present the strongest possible petition.

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