By Amanda Lee Myers and Paul Elias
SAN FRANCISCO — The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit in San Francisco federal court seeking to halt a practice in which alleged illegal immigrants are shackled at the feet, waist and wrists while appearing in immigration court.
The ACLU alleges in the suit filed Monday that the blanket policy violates constitutional bans against cruel and unusual punishment.
According to the suit, the overwhelming majority of prisoners appearing in immigration courts have no violent criminal histories. The lawsuit seeks to compel the Department of Homeland Security to make individual determinations about shackling rather than have a blanket policy.
Department officials declined to comment.
The lawsuit applies only to those who appear in San Francisco immigration court, but attorneys who filed it say they hope it prompts changes to the system nationwide.
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Copyright 2011 Associated Press