LatinoJustice Files Amicus Brief in Danbury 11 Case In Support of the Yale Law School Worker and Immigrant Rights Clinic

LatinoJustice PRLDEF in October, 2014 filed an amicus brief with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Maldonado v. Holder, known as the ‘Danbury 11 case,’ in support of the Yale Law School Worker & Immigrant Rights Clinic petition requesting en banc review of Circuit’s August 14, 2014 panel decision because of the potential impact the case will have on already vulnerable immigrant population, their ability to safely secure work in public, and their ability to have an immigration court hearing seeking to suppress evidence questionable obtained by law enforcement in violation of their Fourth Amendment rights. The Second Circuit granted LatinoJustice’s motion for leave to file the amicus brief. We are currently awaiting decision by the court on whether it will grant en banc review of the case.

In Maldonado, a group of day laborers who had gathered in a public location in Danbury, Connecticut to seek work when they were picked up by undercover local Danbury Police in an unmarked van posing as an employer under the guise of hiring them for work. The Danbury Police then drove the workers to an abandoned parking lot location where they were turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents who arrested the 11 men. The workers had sought to suppress the incriminatory statements they had made about their immigration status which were the sole basis of the removal proceedings against them based on the deceitful circumstances in which they had been arrested and the statements had been made. But the motions were summarily denied by the Immigration Judge without any hearing.

The Second Circuit’s August 14, 2014 decision irrational holding that the group of day laborers had “self-selected” themselves for arrest because of their visibly recognizable ethnicity plus their engagement in an activity that is supposedly “correlated” with undocumented status would open the door to increased law enforcement harassment by ICE and local police. The danger this case presents is the extremely broad discretion typically afforded to ICE to approach and arrest any person that fits a particular characteristic shared by undocumented persons plus a visibly recognizable ethnicity – which as the dissent vigorously argued, “would result in a limitless grant of authority to invade the constitutional rights of an already highly targeted and vulnerable population.”

LatinoJustice who was joined by the international firm of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP filed its amicus brief on behalf of eleven national and regional organizations that advocate for Latinos, blacks and South Asians, farmworkers, laborers, street vendors, maintenance and domestic workers including the Hispanic Federation, Medgar Evers College Center for Law & Social Justice, New Immigrant for Community Empowerment, DRUM – South Asian Organizing Center, Vamos Unidos, JUNTA for Progressive Action, the Urban Justice Center’s Street Vendor Project, Workers Center of Central New York, and SEIU-32BJ Despite receiving several similar requests, the Second Circuit only granted LatinoJustice and one other national organization leave to file an amicus. LatinoJustice’s amicus brief can be found here. LatinoJustice would like to thank its pro bono partner Cleary Gottlieb, and Cleary lawyers Thomas J. Moloney, Shiwon Choe, and Sharon L. Barbour.

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