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Suit charges that INS holds alien children as hostages

Four-year-old Orlando Ramirez, who has been in federal custody for more than two weeks, is at the center of a lawsuit accusing the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) of holding some 200 children of illegal aliens as bait to lure their parents out of hiding.

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The INS says it would be wrong to release children like Orlando to anyone but their parents or legal guardians, as regulations dictate. An immigration judge here and the Board of Immigration Appeals in Washington, D.C., last week upheld the rule.

The National Center for Immigrants' Rights, which filed the lawsuit last Friday, objects to the INS insistence that the mother be subjected to interrogation and that she give up her constitutional right to remain silent so INS can gather evidence to begin deportation proceedings against her.

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