Two undocumented immigrants from Connecticut Wednesday dropped their civil rights lawsuit against federal officials in return for being allowed to stay in the U.S.
The negotiated settlement was reached between U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Gabriel Villanueva-Ojanama of Hartford and Sebastian Manuel Castro Largo of Meriden.
As a result of the federal decision to drop deportation proceedings, the two men will be able to stay with their families in Connecticut, according to students from the Worker & Immigration Rights Advocacy Clinic at Yale Law School. Law students from the clinic represented the men in their federal lawsuit.
Both men were arrested by Connecticut police in separate incidents in 2011 and convicted of motor vehicle offenses in state courts. They were turned over to ICE agents as a result of federal “detainers” under a controversial program called Secure Communities.
Critics of the program charge that tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants have been unfairly deported despite never having committed any serious crimes. The Obama Administration has claimed the Secure Communities deportations were intended to target only felony criminals such as drug dealers and rapists.
The 2013 lawsuit filed by the two Connecticut men charged those federal detainers were administrative notices that failed to meet legal requirements for a warrant, and violated the civil rights of Villanueva-Ojanama, 37, and Castrol Largo, 34.
“I’m grateful that ICE agreed to terminate my case and recognized how serious and difficult my experience was,” Villanueva-Ojanama said in a prepared statement. “I’m glad I can now put this behind me an continue to live here and support my family.”