US immigration officers get new rules

On April 14th a federal District Court judge decided that US federal authorities need to have new rules governing immigration raids on private residences.  The ruling came following a class action lawsuit against Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents who forced their way into as many as eight private homes belonging to Latino families in Westchester County and on Long Island without having any warrants or legal justification for doing so.  The raids took place in 2006 and 2007 and in at least one of the instances agents came inside with drawn guns.

“No longer will US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents have free reign to invade the homes of immigrants, especially Latino immigrants, and be as abusive as they want without any worry that they might be reprimanded,” says the president of Latino Justice PRLDEF, Juan Cartagena.

As part of the brand new rules, agents will now have to get permission to be able to enter the homes of the residents as well as now requiring consent to enter private outdoor areas adjacent to their properties, including yards.  The new ruling forbids agents from conducting protective sweeps of the homes unless there is a “reasonable, articulable suspicion of danger.”

Members of the law enforcement agency were fierce critics of the raids, especially since the officers acted without even getting the judicial search warrants needed to get informed consent from the residents prior to entering private homes.  “If any local law enforcement agency in the nation were involved in these types of widespread constitutional violations it would prompt a federal investigation,” noted Nassau County Police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey.