Friday, September 14, 2012

Suppression Motions in Immigration Court: Third Circuit case law

On September 13, 2012, the Third Circuit issued a precedential decision granting the appeal by the NYU Law School immigration clinic in Oliva-Ramos v. Holder, No. 10-3849 (3d Cir. Sept. 13, 2012).  The Third Circuit rejected the rulings by the IJ and BIA along with the arguments by OIL lawyers regarding the viability of suppression motions in immigration court.

As set forth by eight out of nine justices in INS v. Lopez-Mendoza, INS v. Lopez-Mendoza, 468 U.S. 1032 (1984), evidence should be suppressed if there is an egregious violation of the Fourth Amendment, if the evidence is unreliable, or if illegal searches were part of widespread violations.

The Third Circuit ruled that an illegal act is an egregious Fourth Amendment violation if either (a) it was a constitutional violation that was fundamentally unfair or (b) the violation (whether unfair or not) undermined the reliability of the evidence in dispute.  In addition, evidence should be suppressed upon showing that the illegal searches were widespread in nature.

For those litigating cases about raids in NJ, it is very interesting that the Third Circuit noted that it already received evidence and allegations of widespread illegal immigration raids in the case of Argueta v. ICE, 643 F.3d 60 (3d Cir. 2011).  There is also evidence suggesting widespread home raids based on memos for ICE Fugitive Operations Teams, ICE arrest statistics, and a Cardozo Law School clinic's report titled Constitution on ICE (2009).  Lawyers and scholars have been compiling notes on ways to prove that illegal ICE raids are widespread in nature.

The decision also includes important points about seeking to terminate proceedings based on regulatory violations.  That's an additional argument to pursue separate from seeking to suppress illegally obtained evidence.

Congratulations to NYU Law School's clinic!  Also great work by DLA Piper, who filed an amicus brief on behalf of the ACLU, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, AALDEF, Cardozo Immigration Justice Clinic, and Catholic Charities of Newark!


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