Seton Hall Law School’s Center for Social Justice and Lowenstein Sandler, PC, filed suit today in federal court, alleging that federal law enforcement officials violated the ten victims’ constitutional privacy and due process rights under the Fourth and Fifth Amendments by entering their homes without consent or a judicial warrant during pre-dawn “raids”.
. . . immigration agents forced their way into each plaintiff’s home in the early hours of the morning without a judicial warrant or the occupants’ consent. Most of the plaintiffs were awakened by loud pounding on their doors and answered the door, fearing an emergency. ICE agents subsequently either lied about their identity or purpose to gain entry, or simply shoved their way into the home. During each raid the agents swept through the house and, displaying guns, rounded up all the residents for questioning. In some cases they ordered children out of their beds, shouted obscenities, shoved guns into residents’ chests, and forbade detained individuals from calling their lawyers. In at least half the raids, the officers purported to be searching for a person who did not even live at the address raided.
The complaint asserts that these practices are not isolated violations, but are examples of a clear modus operandi typical of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) program called “Operation Return to Sender”. Under this program, the complaint alleges, ICE agents have been ordered to meet dramatically increased immigrant arrest quotas using grossly outdated address information and without having been trained on lawful procedures.
. . . According to the complaint, the constitutional violations did not cease once agents had entered the homes. For example, plaintiff Maria Argueta, a legal resident, was arrested in her home at 4:30 in the morning and detained for 24 hours without food or water; the agents lied to get into her home then refused to even to look at her immigration papers proving her status.
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