Federal Judge Rules that Rights of Immigrants Were Violated

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Hartford, CT—A federal judge has ruled that four illegal immigrants’ constitutional rights were violated in raids conducted by federal agents, in retaliation for a program that granted ID cards to those who were living in the country illegally.

In June, 2007, the city of New Haven approved the issuance of identification cards to all those who were living in the city, including illegal immigrants. The cards are meant to help all residents receive city services and open bank accounts in the United States. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials claim that the raids, which were conducted two days after the city’s ruling, were not in retaliation but had in fact been in the works for years.

The immigration agents went into the immigrants’ homes without consent, probable cause or warrants, ruled Immigration Judge Michael Straus. According to court documents, the men claimed that agents barged into their homes after the residents had opened the doors just slightly. Additionally, witnesses made statements that during the raids, parents were arrested in front of their children, agents refused to identify themselves, and agents told residents to shut up.

Agents were looking for specific illegal immigrants who were named on a “target list,” but who were not found. They did, however, make 32 arrests that morning, which opponents of the immigration policy say were improper.

Of those 32 who were arrested, 30 were released on supervision orders or bond. Seventeen of those challenged their arrests in court. They are being represented by Yale Law School students.

“We’re obviously very happy about it,” said Anant Saraswat, one of the students. “We think our clients had a very strong case.”

The four men named in the June 1 and 2 ruling issued by Straus lived in two homes, and are from Mexico, according to immigration officials. All four, however, had cited their Fifth Amendment rights and refused to name their country of origin.

Straus’s ruling claimed that the four immigrants’ rights were “egregiously violated,” and that the agents were “unlawful” in entering the apartments. Immigration and Customs Enforcement authorities are reviewing the decision and will decide whether or not to appeal. They have 30 days to file an appeal.

Straus also halted proceedings to deport the four defendants.

 

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