NWIRP Files Lawsuit Targeting Corrupt ICE Official
For Immediate Release
Thursday, October 23rd, 2014
Contact: Matt Adams, Legal Director
SEATTLE - Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP) today filed a lawsuit on behalf of Ignacio Lanuza Torres after a government attorney successfully convinced an Immigration Judge to order Mr. Lanuza deported based on a knowingly falsified government document. An employee with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) forged a document in order to strip Mr. Lanuza of his right under the immigration laws to apply for immigration protection that would allow him to remain in the United States with his U.S. citizen wife and children. The lawsuit names Jonathan Love, Assistant Chief Counsel for ICE, and the United States Government as Defendants.
NWIRP and Mr. Lanuza are calling on federal officials to conduct a thorough investigation to determine if there are other victims of similar misconduct by ICE and to ensure that the responsible official is held accountable.
The lawsuit was filed this morning, October 23, 2014, in federal court in Seattle. As outlined in the complaint, an ICE official knowingly manufactured evidence--altering a critical government document--in an effort to prevent Mr. Lanuza from establishing that he was eligible to apply for lawful permanent residence (or "green card" status). This document was submitted by Mr. Love to an immigration judge, who ordered Mr. Lanuza deported expressly on the basis of the forged document. This deportation order was initially upheld on appeal until a new attorney for Mr. Lanuza uncovered the fraudulent conduct. Mr. Lanuza's immigration case was ultimately reopened and, five years later, the immigration court approved his application for permanent residence, but not until after Mr. Lanuza and his family had endured years of uncertainty and expensive litigation.
"This case demonstrates a level of impunity by an ICE official that is quite shocking," said Matt Adams, NWIRP's Legal Director, who is representing Mr. Lanuza in the case. "We are deeply concerned that this incident may well indicate a broader pattern of unlawful conduct. The federal government must step up and conduct a thorough investigation of all the other cases handled by the culpable official in order to discover whether there are other victims."
"I want to know why he would do this to me and my family," said Mr. Lanuza. "I don't know how you can be a government officer and break any laws, especially laws to give families a chance to stay together."
The Immigration Judge granted Mr. Lanuza lawful permanent resident status in January of this year. NWIRP followed up by filing an administrative claim and complaint with federal officials in February, but the claim was denied in August. No other action has been taken so far to hold the ICE employee accountable.
A copy of the complaint can be found here
A copy of exhibits, part 1, can be found here
A copy of exhibits, part 2, can be found here