7 On Your Side: Family files FOIA lawsuit against U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

(Photo Courtesy: Moctezuma Family)

Esmeralda Moctezuma is fighting thru a new lawsuit to bring her mother, Esperanza Padilla, back to America after ICE deported her in 2017. Padilla has lived in Ohio for the past 25 years, has 4 kids who are U.S. citizens and has no criminal record.

"All these Holidays that we haven't had her. It's a constant cry. It's tears,” says Esmeralda Moctezuma.

Padilla, a Mexican citizen, attended a routine annual renewal of her status with the U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement but ICE denied it and without notice deported her.

ICE released her husband who is a lawful permanent resident. Esmeralda, who’s the oldest child at 21 years old, heard the news at work.

"My sister was sobbing on the phone and she was like hey they took my mom and my dad and I said what do you mean? So they detained my mom and took my dad in. I told my supervisor I was leaving and she kind of didn't want to let me go so I was like I quit and I quit on the spot. I left everything and went to Cleveland and tried to see if I could get a last goodbye and I just... I couldn't,” says Esmeralda Moctezuma.

Dozens of federal immigration lawsuits have been filed in the past two years including 35 by the A.C.L.U. but this one is different. It asks a judge to order ICE to cough up documents it so far hasn't handed over.

"What kind of policies they have currently? How do they determine who should be deported and what are the priorities. Who should be held in custody and why? We believe that the public has a right to know the facts about how ICE makes its decisions. We are very concerned that ICE’s current enforcement priorities have resulted in racial profiling and illegal uses of the agency’s discretion. These deportations have had real and devastating health consequences for the children and families left behind, and they deserve answers and we seek to change this pattern and practice of abuse,” adds attorney Anna Markovich who is part of Padilla's legal team.

The lawsuit also focuses on basic human rights policies and bioethics used in the deportation of immigrants.

See copy of lawsuit here:

"Law and ethics go hand in hand. What happened here is the policy from the beginning was fundamentally flawed. There was nothing built in the policy that protected the people they were deporting. We seek to steer the public discussion away from the bitterness of politics and toward consideration of human health and the reality that the majority of these immigrants and their families are genuinely suffering medically and psychologically. We look to the law and bioethics for solutions to address these tragic consequences. Judges cannot solve these problems without the assistance of the medical community and its scholars and practitioners,” says attorney David Malik who is also part of Padilla’s legal team.

Last year Malik submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request asking ICE for more information about the people who have been deported, ICE’s policies related to racial and ethnic profiling, and ICE’s process for determining which individuals to deport.

In the lawsuit, Malik says ICE failed to provide this information.

Esmerelda just wants Mom to come home.

“I honestly can't wait for that moment when she is legal and finally crossing and I can just hug her,” says Esmerelda Moctezuma

What does ICE have to say? Nobody at the federal agency is responding citing they are out of the office due to the government shut down.

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