Court Rules Case Challenging Legality of ICE Raids Can Move Forward

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Aug. 1, 2011

CONTACT: John Garcia, Director of Communications, 917-673-9095 jgarcia@latinojustice.org


A federal court ruled today that a case alleging that the government’s immigration division conducted systematic, warrantless raids on Latino homes could move forward.

In one of few lawsuits of its kind, brought on behalf of the plaintiffs by LatinoJustice PRLDEF and Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP, the case seeks to stop the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security from conducting unconstitutional raids in the New York area jurisdiction of ICE. Victims of such raids – including numerous U.S. citizens – have filed similar suits across the country.

The decision in this case, Aguilar et al v. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Division of the United States of America Department of Homeland Security, is of great significance, in part, because it affirms that plaintiffs’ allegations entitle them to seek a change in ICE’s policies and practices.

More than twenty individual plaintiffs claimed that ICE’s home raids trampled on Fourth Amendment rights and left a trail of harm affecting U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents and other Latinos. Children as young as four were roused from their beds as ICE agents invaded bedrooms, woke sleeping residents, and pushed through homes in attempts to make arrests of undocumented immigrants.

“Our clients were enormously brave to take on ICE’s abusive practices. This is a huge victory for them and for the Latino community, the first in decades that rules that victims of immigration home raids can seek injunctive relief to change ICE’s unconstitutional practices,” said Ghita Schwarz, the lead attorney at LatinoJustice PRLDEF. “Judge Koeltl not only found that we had credibly alleged a pattern and practice of invading homes without warrants or consent; he also held that high-level officials could be held accountable for their creation of policies that led to unlawful conduct on the ground.”

Court papers detail several incidents in which ICE agents armed with submachine guns and shotguns entered homes without obtaining a judicial warrant or occupants’ consent in a manner that terrified sleeping residents and frightened children, in one case raiding the same house twice in little more than a year, both times seeking a person who did not reside there. Agents surrounded homes in the pre-dawn hours, pounded on doors and windows, and pushed past minors who opened the door to see multiple armed agents. In one instance, ICE agents put a gun to the chest of a lawful permanent resident who opened his door, handcuffing him before searching his home and detaining his family.

“Today’s decision affirms our clients’ ability to force ICE to change its home raid practices so that they comport with our Constitution,” said Donna L. Gordon, partner at Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP.

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