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Tennessee Seizes Legal Residents’ Green Cards For ‘Months,’ For No Reason, Class Claims

NASHVILLE (CN) - Tennessee state troopers seize legal permanent residents' green cards for no reason and refuse to return them for "months," wreaking havoc in the lives of people legally in the United States, a class action claims in Federal Court.

The two named plaintiffs say Tennessee Department of Safety officers seized their green cards for no reason when they applied for driver's licenses. The illegal seizure prevented one man from being with his wife while she gave birth to their child, prevented him from cashing his paychecks, and prevented him from visiting his family in Mexico for Christmas, he says.

Enrique Bautista and Juan Angel-Lopez say, "This policy is part of a disturbing trend and pattern of discriminatory treatment of foreign-born residents of Tennessee who are legally present in the United States. ...

"This discriminatory abuse and harassment threatens to spread even further pursuant to another statute enacted on May 15, 2007 (Public Chapter 165), which authorized the Tennessee Highway Patrol, hereafter THP (part of the Tennessee Department of Safety), to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Homeland Security, hereafter DHS, to allow training of THP officers in immigration law. This would presumably lead to increased frequency of traffic stops and confiscation and detention of legally issued federal identification documents not familiar to the individual trooper who may be conducting the traffic stop. According to published reports, a '287(g) contract' has since been executed between THP and DHS, which presumably delegated certain enforcement functions of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to DHS."

The complaint claims the defendants erected unreasonable, harassing and needless barriers and failed to respond to requests for return of the documents, which the plaintiffs need to conduct their daily lives.

They seek an injunction and punitive damages for constitutional violations. They are represented by Elliott Ozment.

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