Judge: Immigrants’ rights violated in raids

A federal judge has halted the deportation of four New Haven residents arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents during raids in Fair Haven in 2007.

In decisions filed last week, Immigration Judge Michael Straus said that the actions committed against the residents were “egregious” violations of their Fourth Amendment rights and that ICE’s lack of cooperation in providing evidence to justify its actions at the raids led him to issue the ruling. It remains unclear whether ICE officials will appeal.

ICE agents detained 32 immigrants from several Fair Haven residences on June 6, 2007. The raids came 36 hours after the New Haven Board of Aldermen voted to approve the Elm City Resident Card, though ICE officials have refuted City Hall’s claim that the raids were conducted in retaliation for the approval of the ID program.

In January, Straus ruled that for the cases of six detained New Haven residents, agents who made the arrests must defend their actions, which included arriving at homes in the early morning and entering residences without consent or warrants. The next month, officials at ICE — an arm of the Department of Homeland Security — refused to provide testimony from the agents and instead supplied only an affidavit by the arresting agents’ supervisory officer.

That was not enough, Straus said. “[The supervisory officer] wholly lacks personal knowledge with respect to the event of entry,” the judge wrote. “This scant evidence is unsubstantiated hearsay and, at points, hearsay upon hearsay.”

The government now has a month to appeal the ruling.

“[But if] the government doesn’t appeal, it’s as if like [the raids] never happened,” said Anant Saraswat LAW ’09, a representative of the team of Yale Law School students and faculty members who helped to defend the four residents.

A spokeswoman for ICE, Paula Grenier, did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Straus has not yet ruled on the remaining two cases.

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