Federal judge formally orders release of two undocumented immigrants

A federal judge in Boston formally ordered the release of two undocumented immigrants Monday, ruling that US Immigration and Customs Enforcement violated their Constitutional rights when it detained them.

“The United States has historically been distinguished by its dedication to treating lawfully and fairly all among us, including aliens who are in the country illegally,” wrote US District Court Judge Mark L. Wolf in a 62-page decision that took the federal agency to task for failing to follow its own procedures.

Wolf’s decision centered on the cases of Lucimar de Souza, a Brazilian immigrant married to an American who was separated from her three children for three months after she was detained at a government office in downtown Boston, and Eduardo Junqueira, another Brazilian immigrant. Both de Souza and Junqueira had been released after a May 8 court appearance in which Wolf demanded justification from ICE for their continued detention.


“ICE’s illegal actions concerning de Souza and Junqueira have had profound human consequences that would continue without the court’s intervention,” Wolf wrote. He noted that while a federal statute allows ICE to detain immigrants who entered the country illegally and have been ordered for removal for as long as 90 days, de Souza and Junqueira were held “for more than 90 days without following the process.”

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“In view of ICE’s repeated violations of its regulations — and its indifference to its duty to obey the law — it would not now be fair to keep de Souza or Junqueira incarcerated.”

de Souza and Junqueira are still subject to deportation, Wolf wrote.

ICE said Monday that it was “starting a careful review of the judge’s decision.”

“Until a full review of the legal decision is completed, it would be premature for us to offer any response at this time,” said John Mohan, an ICE spokesperson.


Wolf also said he is concerned that ICE may be violating the rights of other undocumented immigrants. After two court hearings in late May, ICE reviewed detainee files in its Burlington field office and found 30 to 40 additional cases where they had failed to follow proper procedures.

Maria Cramer of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Aimee Ortiz can be reached at Follow her on twitter @aimee_ortiz.