[JURIST] The Southern Poverty Law Center [advocacy website] filed a federal lawsuit [text, PDF; press release] Wednesday against the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) [official website] for its alleged harassment of five US citizens of Mexican descent during an illegal immigration [JURIST news archive] shakedown in Georgia over Labor Day weekend. The civil rights group claims ICE violated the citizens' Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights [text] when it illegally detained, harassed and searched the Mexican-Americans' persons solely because of their appearance in a raid on a chicken processing plant. An ICE spokesman told AP the accusations were "patently false" but declined to comment on specific claims in the suit.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has indicated that it hopes to certify the lawsuit as a class action which would include all local individuals of Hispanic descent or appearance as plaintiffs. The lawsuit, filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of Georgia [official website] and seeking damages and an injunction against future raids, currently names the ICE, its officials and the 30 agents who conducted the raid as defendants. The illegal immigrant population in Georgia is growing faster than anywhere else in the US, having more than doubled since 2000. AP has more.