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American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia Records - Guide to Selected Case Files: Immigrants' Rights

The ACLU of Georgia's records are housed at the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies. This guide provides further description about the cases litigated by the ACLU of Georgia which are best documented in the records.


Immigration to the U.S. is often characterized as taking place in waves, resulting in the “melting pot” that makes up American society. Starting with the immigration of British nationals, the U.S. has welcomed individuals of European, Asian, African, and South American descent to its shores. However, the immigration laws of the U.S. have also developed in waves, leaving some immigrant groups without the protections generally afforded to American citizens.

In keeping with its mission to defend the principles and freedoms embodied in the Bill of Rights, the ACLU of Georgia works to protect the rights of all immigrants, including those residing in the U.S. without documentation. Through its Immigrants’ Rights Project, the ACLU of Georgia seeks to defend individuals’ rights in court cases and immigration proceedings and advocates for legislative reform of U.S. immigration policy.


Fernandez-Roque v. Smith, 1981-1987

General Description: Refugees and Asylum

Summary of the Issues Involved: Plaintiffs filed a class action on behalf of approximately 1800 Cubans who were detained by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) upon their arrival in the U.S. The plaintiffs sought relief from detention and deportation, arguing they were refugees and had a well-founded fear of persecution should they be returned to Cuba. Ultimately, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ordered the Government to hold hearings for each detainee to determine the need for detention.