Friday, February 20, 2009

Immigration Judge Tabaddor Terminates Case Due To Illegal ICE Raid

The ACLU of Southern California announced today that Los Angeles Immigration Judge A. Ashley Tabaddor issued a 19-page ruling that terminated a case in immigration court due to illegal conduct by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement).

The judge concluded that in February 2008, ICE agents blocked exits at Micro Solutions Enterprises and illegally detained and questioned a number of workers. ICE acted illegally because officers lacked reasonable suspicion to arrest or detain a number of the workers. A regulation at 8 CFR 287.8(b) prohibits warrantless arrests without reasonable suspicion.

It has been long-established that an immigration judge should stop removal proceedings by terminating a case if the government violates its regulations in a way that affects the rights of the respondent. Over two decades ago, the BIA ruled on this in Matter of Garcia-Flores, 17 I&N Dec. 325 (BIA 1980).

Another problem with ICE raids are that they frequently violate the requirements of 8 CFR 287.8(c), which requires in most cases that if ICE arrests someone without a warrant and starts a case in immigration court, ICE must inform the arrested person of the right to hire an attorney, must provide a list of free legal services in the area, and must advise that statements may be used against him or her.

The legal rules in immigration court offer protection for immigrants through filing a motion to suppress evidence and a motion to terminate proceedings. In this case, the immigration judge agreed to terminate the case because ICE acted illegally and in a way that violated its regulations.

According to the ACLU-Southern California press release, workers affected by the raid are being represented by a number of attorneys from the National Lawyers Guild, the American Immigration Lawyers' Association, the Coalition for Humane Immigrants' Rights of Los Angeles, the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, the National Immigration Law Center, and the Central American Resource Center. Congratulations!

ICE should not be allowed to conduct raids where they deny food and water to people they arrest for over 18 hours, they arrest people illegally, and they do not comply with regulations about warnings that they must give to the people they arrest.

The Supreme Court in INS v. Lopez-Mendoza set up a framework that could authorize the exclusionary rule in immigration court upon showing widespread Fourth Amendment violations or that various factors such as frequent illegal ICE activity weigh in favor of applying the exclusionary rule. Stories such as this one raise the question of whether the legal test now requires imposing the exclusionary rule in immigration court for all illegal searches and seizures.

The case was for Gregorio Perez Cruz. The lead attorney in the case was Noemi G. Ramirez of the law office of Noemi G. Ramirez. Co-counsel was Ahilan R. Arulanantham of the ACLU of Southern California. The attorney for the government was James M. Left of ICE counsel in Los Angeles.


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