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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Federal agents violated the constitutional rights of four illegal immigrants in raids that critics say were retaliation for a New Haven program that provided ID cards to foreigners in the country illegally, a federal judge has ruled.
The sweeps in New Haven on June 6, 2007, came two days after the city approved issuing identification cards to all city residents, regardless of immigration status. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials deny the early morning raids were retaliatory, saying planning began the year before.
Immigration Judge Michael Straus, in decisions last week, said the ICE agents went into the immigrants’ homes without warrants, probable cause or their consent, and he put a stop to deportation proceedings against the four defendants, whose names were not released. ICE officials claim all four are from Mexico, but all four cited their Fifth Amendment rights in refusing to say what country they are from.
Two of the four immigrants lived in one home, and two lived in a second home. They said in affidavits that agents barged into both homes after residents had opened their doors only a little. The agents went into both homes looking for specific illegal immigrants on a “target list,” who weren’t found, court documents say.
Witnesses alleged in court documents that parents were arrested in front of their frightened children, agents refused to identify themselves and told people in the homes to shut up.
In his rulings issued June 1 and 2, Straus said the four immigrants’ rights were “egregiously violated” and the agents’ entries in the apartments were “unlawful.”
“Examination of the agents’ … conduct confirms (the defendant’s) Fourth Amendment rights were flagrantly violated,” Straus wrote in one immigrant’s case.
Yesterday’s ruling shows that America is better than that.