Immigrants sue feds over 2007 raids

No caption. Photo by YDN.

Ten New Haven residents intend to file a lawsuit today against federal immigration agents and officials, accusing them of violating constitutional rights during the raids in New Haven on June 6, 2007.

The 10 residents, who will be represented by Yale Law School students, claim that the raids were unconstitutional because federal agents lacked search warrants and arrested people solely on the basis of race and ethnicity. The residents are expected to sue not only the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents who participated in the raid on the ground but also their supervisors, whose decisions the plaintiffs say led to the infringements of civil rights.

This is the first time lawyers have challenged the constitutionality of the New Haven raids in the federal judicial branch. Previous lawsuits have been filed in federal immigration court, the entity within the executive branch that deals with deportation.

The Yale lawyers say the raids were mounted in retaliation of the Board of Aldermen’s approval two days earlier of the Elm City Resident Card, an ID card provided to residents regardless of immigration status. ICE officials have said the raids were routine enforcement in full accordance with the law.

On June 6, 2007, ICE agents raided eight apartments and homes, detaining 29 New Haven residents — five of whom were the intended targets of the raids.

“ICE agents broke into my home without permission while I was still sleeping, pulled the covers from my bed, and arrested me for no reason,” said Jose Solano-Yangua, a plaintiff in the case, in a press release. “I was terrified and humiliated. We are bringing this suit, because we refuse to let our families and community live in fear.”

Since 2007, a team of lawyers and students led by Law School professor Michael Wishnie ’87 LAW ’93 has been working to prove that the individual arrests were illegal. They have argued that the searches and seizures violated the immigrants’ Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights, which protect against unreasonable searches and seizures and guarantee due process of law.

One of the detainees has been deported, five volunteered to leave, and 17 cases are still pending.

Until now, the lawyers have been litigating the individual cases. This new lawsuit seeks to hold individual ICE officials accountable for the alleged constitutional violations.

In a press release, Lindsay Nash LAW ’10, one of the Yale law students representing the plaintiffs, blamed senior ICE officials for the raids because they pressured regional ICE offices to make “arrest quotas.” In 2006, the director of ICE’s Detention and Removal Office, John Torres, increased the agency’s goal for immigration arrests to 1,000 per regional enforcement team, up from 125, according to internal ICE memos obtained by the Yeshiva University’s Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law through a Freedom of Information request. That same year, Torres permitted arrests of immigrants without criminal records or fugitive status to count toward ICE’s goal, according to the ICE documents.

In February, ICE spokesman Richard Rocha told the News that the goal increase was in accordance with the agency’s mission.

“The number of arrests is a goal, not a quota, and we do prioritize,” he said at the time. “But if, in the course of our work, we encounter other illegal individuals, we have to enforce the law.”

Norma Franceschi, a Fair Haven proprietor and community leader, praised the suit for providing the federal court an opportunity to reform immigration law.

Father James Manship of St. Rose of Lima Church said that the neighborhood supports the plaintiffs in the case.

“Our community will not be intimidated or silenced,” Manship said in the press release. “We will stand with the plaintiffs in this lawsuit in order to seek justice.”

Ana Munoz LAW ’10, one of the Yale law students working on the lawsuit, did not return a phone call seeking comment.

New Haven is home to an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 undocumented immigrants, most of whom live in Fair Haven.

Ilana Seager contributed reporting.


  • Alum

    It’s nice to see Yale professors and students stepping up to defend the ideals that the university should hold in highest esteem, but sometimes falls short of truly promoting. You win a brownie point on this one, Yale.

    And now, let the next commenters’ anti-immigrant rancor begin…

  • Recent Alum

    Shame on New Haven, shame on Yale Law School, shame on Yale.

  • Tanner

    Doesn’t the Yale Law School infringe on New Haven Lawyers and their staffs to make a doller when Yale uses these cases for cliff notes. I do hope the plaintiffs keep any monetary gain in New Haven and not retire to a less expensive country.

  • Another recent alum

    Way to go, Yale Law School. There is so far to go in trying to resolve immigration issues, but I hope this case helps limit the violence perpetrated by gov. agencies against undocumented workers.

  • Beast

    This will go nowhere, I have no doubt that ICE made sure that before they raided people, they were well within their Constitutional Right to do so. You really think ICE would not think this through before enacting it. Watch how this gets defeated, if not thrown out of court entirely. Follow our laws, come here LEGALLY, and you have nothing to worry about. Go ICE!!!

  • william

    so if their breaking the law in the first place that’s ok lets forget thier illegal where is the common sense in this country

  • Dink Stover

    If these YLS students believe that ICE violated anyone’s constitutional rights during the June 2007 raids, have they given any thought to offering how immigration enforcement agencies are supposed to go about constitutionally enforcing our immigration law? As noted in this article, there are 10 to 15,000 illegal immigrants in New Haven. How should the government go about making them leave?

  • Karl Marx U

    You’re missing the point Stover. Yale Law and the supporters of the illegal immigrants practice selective law. The illegals broke laws to get here, break laws while they are here and continue to ignore the fact thier actions are illegal. They and thier Yale Law carpetbagger protectors demand they be afforded full protection under the law, while at the same time demanding other federal laws be ignored in thier favor. You can’t have it both ways. What happened to the 1500 or so cars in New Haven and the owners that had no insurance and false registrations from Pennsylvania? Yale students and legal city residents are hounded for taxes. They are required to have insurance, emmisssions inspections and pay taxes. How many illegal “residents” tale advantage of city schools, programs and health care? Who pays for that? Not the Yale Law students. It’s the typical situation of New Haven being used as a social laboratory for Yale students to pad thier resume. Time for everyone else to return fair play. If Yale Law and the illegals can pick and choose from the laws they feel they need to respect, so can everyone else. Once again Yale students are padding thier liberal resume no matter how much it costs legal citizens.

  • Deke

    How weird to have law students representing law breaking illegal aliens? The illegals should have NO rights since they are not citizens and should not even be in this country, let alone be able to file a lawsuit against the government. Is that what schools teach these days, stand up for lawlessness instead of defending our laws?

  • Yale ’11

    Deke, you’re obviously unaware that besides nativist immigration laws, this country has laws protecting the rights of PEOPLE, not necessarily citizens, and among those are rights for people accused of breaking laws. And last time I checked, these rights, unlike immigration policy, are explicitly mentioned in the Bill of Rights; good luck changing that.

  • Greg Jones

    So children going to college think they are right to defend illegals against citizens of the US? What an absolute disgrace. We will defeat you at the polls. You will see. Americans OVERWHELMINGLY DO NOT WANT ILLEGALS IN OUR COUNTRY. How dare you!

  • Brewster

    Another class project for the Yale Law to train activist federal judges, those other two branches of government are such a bother.

  • Yeh Ling-Ling

    As an immigrant who used to prepare amnesty and other immigration applications, I am sadded by this shortsighted lawsuit.

    Although most illegal migrants are not violent criminals, Americans who are encouraging illegal immigration should be held accountable should law-abiding residents be harmed by illegal migrants. Open border advocates should realize that they may be the next victims.
    In its 1/28/09 article titled “FBI: Burgeoning gangs behind up to 80% of U.S. crime” USA Today reported that “criminal gangs in the USA have swelled to an estimated 1 million members responsible for up to 80% of crimes in communities across the nation… The major findings in a report by the Justice Department’s National Gang Intelligence Center …conclude gangs are the ‘primary retail-level distributors of most illicit drugs’ and several are ‘capable’ of competing with major U.S.-based Mexican drug-trafficking organizations… One group that continues to spread despite law enforcement efforts is the violent Salvadoran gang known as MS-13…”

    Instead of bringing a lawsuit against the ICE’s raids, people should learn to think critically: They should advocate some sort of immigration moratorium because the U.S. is bankrupt. Although some immigrants are great assets to the U.S., allowing one million legal immigrants, hundreds of thousands of professional and low-skilled “non-immigrant” workers and at least half a million illegal migrants to enter the U.S. every year, who need jobs, healthcare, education and other social services, will only exacerbate our problems.

    Decade ago, China already understood that population growth would seriously impeded its economic success. The Chinese leaders realize that population control helps fight global warming. The U.S. is borrowing massively from China and other countries to finance our currents! When will Americans stop buying their heads in the sand?

    Yeh Ling-Ling
    Alliance for a Sustainable USA
    Oakland, CA

  • Kathleen

    I understand these illegal aliens serve as cash cows for the ILW, ACLU, and other attorneys. What I don’t understand is how American citizens, trained as attorneys, have not stepped forward to represent – pro bono – the families of victims who have been murdered by these illegal aliens who roam, with impunity, aided and abetted by anti-Americans such as the Yale students mentioned in this article.


    So let me get this straight…illegal criminal aleins didn’t like getting arrested for…violating the law…uh this is insane these worthless criminal parasites need to be arrested again, jailed, fined, treated roughly and then deported in the back of a van stuffed with the rest of these thieving parasites. God please let me be in this jury, oh please just once, please please please.

  • steve

    Our Government, past & present, Republican & Democrat, have allowed the invasion of 20 to 30 million criminals and uneducated peons which is the largest invasion of any Nation, at any time, by any means & in direct violation of Article IV, Section IV of our Constitution.

    This refusal to abide by our Constitution or enforce our Immigration Laws should be classified as Treason of the most foul kind, & as grounds for impeachment & trials for Treason!

    Not only have they allowed the invasion, they force American tax payers to pay Billions on Billions of dollars to provide Welfare, Prison cells, Educate the invaders numerous children, and free medical care, at the same time the invading horde break numerous laws and massive document fraud, & are destroying our schools, hospitals, communities, culture and standard of living while Robbing, Raping, Killing & Assaulting American Citizens WAKE UP PEOPLE!

  • Recent Alum

    I hope this helps limit any DECLINE in violence perpetrated by undocumented workers against Americans.

    Me, my family, my neighbors, my fellow citizens really enjoy the increase in violence and crime.

    Don’t believe what I say. Go do some research into crime stats in the U.S. You’ll see that undocumented (illegal) immigrants have high crime rates.

    And please do not look at the statistic that immigrants have low crime rates. That would include ME, Andy Grove of Intel, one of the Google founders, etc, etc, etc.

  • Michael

    This criminal invasion is not helping this country but destroying it at all levels and that is a fact. These invaders are lawless people and come from lawless countries and that is a fact. They don’t understand why we have laws because breaking the law in their country is the norm and not the exception. They will break any law that stands in their way and then call it a right. They have invaded this country and then cry race when they are caught. The fact is this nation is great because of our laws and that the majority of our people are willing to follow them. They also think and tout that they are such hard workers ( while their countries remains in shambles) and that this country could not survive without them. The fact is this country was built without them and it would be a far better place without them now. Immigration is a wonderful thing when it is controlled. Yale should rethink why we have laws and what it means when they are not enforced. Illegal immigration is wrong and bad for everyone. Lastly be Americans and uphold our constitution as it is clear on this issue.

  • Jakson

    Go YALE!!! Folks should get report called CONSTITUTION ON ICE, a 2009 study of ICE operations documents under FOIA, etc. prepared by Prof. Peter Markowitz / Cardoza Law School Immigration Law Clinic shows largest federal law enforcement agency’s unconstitut-ional “lapses”, exposes ICE’s failure to comply with own procedures in conducting warrantless home raids in NY and NJ. Gripping! Whose monitoring the police state?

  • Rhea

    Go YALE More power to you guyz… Keep the faith.