July 12 (UPI) -- Advocates for immigrants living in the United States have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government, saying the Trump administration is unlawfully setting up migrants for deportation.
The American Civil Liberties Union of New York filed the suit Thursday. The 44-page complaint names U.S. Attorney General William Barr, Homeland Security chief Kevin McAleenan, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Mark Morgan and two others as defendants.
The ACLU said the suit is a preemptive measure against raids the administration is planning this weekend, as reported by CNN, The New York Times and others. Last weekend, acting Citizenship and Immigration Services chief Ken Cuccinelli said the government is prepared to deport as many as 1 million people.
The ACLU said its suit intends to safeguard refugee families who fled violence in Central America, noting that their seeking asylum in the United States could be the difference between life and death.
"The Trump administration's plan to arrest and deport thousands of Central American families and children without giving them a fair day in court is both illegal and immoral," ACLU senior counsel Ahilan Arulanatham said in a statement. "More than 100 years ago, the Supreme Court decided that immigrants could not be deported without due process. These vulnerable refugees deserve that basic protection."
The lawsuit states its design is to prevent imminent deportations that violate the "most basic due process principles: the right to notice and an opportunity to be heard." Specifically, it says, the federal government is following a strategy to make migrants vulnerable to deportation.
For example, it argues, some undocumented immigrants don't show up for their court date because they aren't being given dates and times by the government for the hearings. In other cases, it says, they are given the wrong date.
"Even when the government sent notices to the right address for a real hearing, it repeatedly sent them too late, for locations unreasonably far from immigrants' homes," it said. "The government also entered thousands of in-absentia orders against children, even though those children obviously had no control over whether they appeared in court."
"Many of these errors were likely accidental, but others were at least reckless and in some cases intentional."
The ACLU said as a result of the missed hearings, migrants face an immediate and unlawful deportation. The group filed the suit on behalf of four nonprofits that help refugees.
News reports said this weekend's ICE rains were set for Sunday. No government official, however, has confirmed or hinted they will happen.
"People come into our country illegally, we're taking them out legally. Very simple" Trump said Friday.
As a precaution, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said her city has taken steps to ensure that the Chicago Police Department will not cooperate with ICE agents if the raids occur.
"They will not team up with ICE to detain any resident," she said. "We have also cut off ICE access from any CPD databases and that will remain permanent.
"Chicago is and will always be a welcoming city that will never tolerate ICE tearing our families apart."