Federal immigration officials said they will not deport immigrants pursuing legitimate civil rights claims.
A Yale University professor representing an immigrant in a civil rights case said the move came after he and other advocates urged for such a policy, which could help hundreds and eventually thousands of immigrants.
The Yale professor is Michael Wishnie, the New Haven Register reports, and the client is Washington Colala, who was one of 32 people U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents picked up during a raid in controversial in New Haven in 2007.
Ten of the immigrants filed a lawsuit in 2009. Among the claims is that agents went into privates houses without warrants or permission, the Yale Daily News reported.
The group is challenging the constitutionality of that raid, the Register reports, and Colala is a witness for a roommate who ICE picked up.
Prior to the recent decision, witnesses in civil rights cases could be deported before presenting their cases.
While advocates call the decision a way to protect a vulnerable population, critics said this encourages abuses and would encourage lawyers to file claims to stop deportations
ICE said on Friday "absent special circumstances" it is against the agency's policy to deport immigrants in the midst of a legitimate effort to protect their civil rights. ICE officials said the memos were designed to provide guidance on exercising appropriate discretion.