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Coerced into signing voluntary return forms, Mexican citizens allowed to legally return to U.S.

America proudly declares that is it the "land or the free and the home of the brave." The unalienable rights of U.S. citizens are well-documented in the U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence. Under the decrees of these and other founding U.S. documents, citizens are protected from governmental overreaches related to unauthorized search and seizure and the right to due process.

In the U.S., issues related to immigration continue to be extremely contentious and controversial. This is particularly true when it comes to immigrants from Mexico as, according to 2014 data from the Pew Research Center, nearly six million unauthorized immigrants from Mexico currently reside in the U.S.

Despite their illegal status, many Mexicans who come to the U.S. illegally have strong U.S. ties including spouses, children and other family members that were either born in the U.S. or who legally immigrated to the U.S. The vast majority of unauthorized Mexican immigrants are hard-working and law-abiding individuals who simply want to stay with their families and be afforded the opportunity to have a chance at a better life.

In an effort to crack down on illegal immigration, units from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Border Patrol routinely travel to areas that are often hundreds of miles from the U.S. and Mexican border. Consequently, through methods that often involve abuse, deception and coercion; Mexican citizens who have been in the U.S. for years without issue or instance are sometimes ensnarled in raids and subsequently detained at immigration centers.

Last February, a Southern California federal judge ruled that ICE and Border Patrol agents employed deceptive tactics to coerce "hundreds, if not thousands, of noncitizens," to sign forms agreeing that they would voluntarily return to Mexico. Due to the illegal actions of ICE and Border Patrol agents, these individuals were stripped of their rights to have their cases, many of which would likely have been successful, decided by an immigration judge.

Recently, six of these individuals walked freely over the U.S. and Mexican border and into the arms of waiting loved ones. They are among the first of likely many who in the coming months will be allowed to return to the U.S. to reside with family members while their immigration case is pending.

Source: ACLU.org, "ICE and Border Patrol Abuses," Aug. 27, 2015

ACLU.org, "With court's approval, search begins in California and Mexico for Class Members," Feb. 26, 2015

The San Diego Union-Times, "Deportees return to U.S. under lawsuit settlement," Aug. 25, 2015

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