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ACLU Searches For Mexicali Deportees Who May Return To U.S.

Photo caption:

Photo by Jean Guerrero

The American Civil Liberties Union representatives are pictured providing information flyers to Mexicali residents ahead of a public forum about a class action lawsuit, March 20, 2015.

The American Civil Liberties Union visited Mexicali on Friday in search of deportees who may qualify to return to the U.S.

About 100 people, mostly students, attended the public forum at the Universidad Autónoma de Baja California of Mexicali, where the ACLU discussed a settlement with the U.S. government that could benefit thousands of deportees.

In February, a U.S. District Court told the ACLU it could broaden its class of plaintiffs. The original lawsuit allowed 11 deportees to return to the U.S. after they accused immigration officials of coercing them into signing voluntary return forms, which waive the right to an immigration hearing.

Deportees who signed voluntary return forms between June 1, 2009 and August 28, 2014 may qualify to join them.

Representatives from the ACLU asked members of the audience to contact the ACLU if they think they may qualify.

Monica Oropeza attended the ACLU event in Mexicali to learn more about the settlement. She runs a migrant shelter in Mexicali, and thinks several visitors may be eligible plaintiffs.

"We're going to see if one of the people who come to us can apply," Oropeza said.

Miguel Lepe, the Baja California representative for the Ministry of Foreign Relations, said the state government is working with the ACLU to identify deportees who were expelled from the U.S. under the conditions of the settlement.

"There are people who suffered this type of deportation who aren't aware they may be able to return," Lepe said.

The ACLU will be searching for potential plaintiffs through the summer, and will be filing applications on their behalf until the end of the year.

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