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Immigration Paperwork Defect Could Mean Slowed Or Suspended Deportations

By Rick Sallinger

DENVER (CBS4) - A problem in paperwork by immigration agents could lead to a halt in deportation proceedings against hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants in Colorado and around the country. The issue comes after a recent U.S. Supreme court case.

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(credit: CBS)

CBS4 investigator Rick Sallinger spoke with one woman who is hoping this will clear the way for her to stay in Denver with her son.

Her name is Alma. Facing deportation, she asked that we not show her face.

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(credit: CBS)

She, like virtually every other immigrant who entered this country illegally and was taken into custody, she was given an order to appear in court. But those orders did not list a specific date and time.

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(credit: CBS)

Immigration attorney Bryce Downer claims Immigration and Customs Enforcement did not do what they were required to do.

"The government screwed up. They didn't follow the law. The law requires certain procedures to be taken," he said.

He and partner Aaron Elinoff are filing legal action on behalf of Alma and 100 others to have their deportations slowed or suspended.

The U.S. Supreme Court reasoned in a different case that the failure of immigration agents to enter a date and time for a court appearance made the document defective.

Downer and other immigration attorneys feeling the impact could be enormous.

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CBS4's Rick Sallinger interviews Bryce Downer. (credit: CBS)

"This is of huge significance for hundreds of thousands of individuals who pursue this," Downer said.

Judges in some states are already dismissing deportation cases because of the paperwork defect.

Since arrested by ICE agents, Alma has been fighting the return to Mexico.

Through an interpreter she said, "I want to continue here because it offers my son a better future."

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(credit: CBS)

The cases of some 733,000 people facing deportation could potentially be affected by the Supreme Court decision including Alma who fought back tears.

As CBS4's Sallinger offered her tissue paper, he asked, "Why are you crying?"

"Because for me it changed my life from the moment that I arrived," the interpreter translated.

CBS4 contacted ICE for comment, but only received word that request for information was being forwarded.

CBS4's Rick Sallinger is a Peabody award winning reporter who has been with the station more than two decades doing hard news and investigative reporting. Follow him on Twitter @ricksallinger.

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