BOSTON (CN) – Testifying as part of a three-day hearing on claims that Immigration and Customs Enforcement targets the spouses of U.S. citizens for deportation, the newly tapped director of ICE’s Boston field office faced grueling questions Tuesday from a federal judge.
As noted in a recent filing by attorneys for the challengers, ICE abruptly appointed Rebecca Adducci as its interim head in Boston after the government seemed to flounder at a May hearing in the case.
Senior U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf had upraided counsel for Homeland Security at the time about the agency’s tendency to ignore its own rules when it comes to the maximum amount of time it can detain immigrants and what kind of notice it must give before effecting a removal.
The following month, Judge Wolf also issued a 62-page order that described what he called “repeated violations of Department of Homeland Security regulations, and the due-process clause of the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution, in the detention of aliens by the Boston Field Office that Ms. Adducci now directs.”
Judge Wolf scorched Adducci later that month for having apparently failed to read that June 11 order, and Adducci struggled to persuade the judge Tuesday that this was not the case.
“So if you read the decision, several times, and took it serious, why did you say under oath on July 26 that you didn’t know about these regulations,” Wolf asked, referring to the witness’s deposition.
Adducci pushed back.
“I just didn’t recall this,” said Adducci.”I was very focused on the postorder custody review process.”
The case, which Judge Wolf is considering certifying as a class action, involves claims by lead plaintiff Lilian Calderon that the government has a policy of rushing to remove immigrants despite their attempts to seek waivers on the basis of marriage to a U.S. citizen.
Though it was Kevin Prussia, an attorney for Calderon at the firm WilmerHale, who began questioning Adducci on Tuesday, Judge Wolf took the reins when the testimony moved to the topic of provisional waivers.
Both sides have until Wednesday afternoon, when the three-day hearing concludes, to clarify their positions in supplemental briefing.
The hearing was originally scheduled for one week prior but was postponed after the American Civil Liberties Union revealed new evidence from discovery that showed a pattern of collusion between ICE and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to capture immigrants attempting to gain legal status.
Emails obtained by the ACLU’s attorneys show that CIS meetings were rescheduled to accommodate ICE agents who did not want to stretch their resources too thin when making arrests. The email also notes a concern for mass arrests causing negative media coverage.
“As far as scheduling goes, I would prefer not to do them all at one time as it is [not] only a strain on our ability to transport and process several arrests at once, but it also has the potential to be a trigger for negative media interests, as we have seen in the past,” ICE officer Andrew Graham wrote to a Citizenship and Immigration Services employee in October.