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Connecticut residents sue ICE over constitutionality of immigration raids

[JURIST] Ten residents of New Haven, Connecticut, filed a lawsuit [press release, PDF] Wednesday against several US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) [official website] officials, alleging violations of the Fourth, Fifth, and Tenth Amendments [text] in planning and carrying out raids in 2007. The suit maintains that the raids, conducted only 36 hours after the city passed a measure that provided ID cards to all residents regardless of immigration status, were intended as a reprisal [AP report]. The suit also alleges that the raids were motivated by race or ethnicity, citing ICE written communications and emphasizing that the raids singled out 33 New Haven addresses from 5,500 outstanding warrants. The plaintiffs allege that by entering their homes without arrest warrants or consent, ICE officials violated their Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights. In addition, the suit posits that ICE infringed on Connecticut's Tenth Amendment protected state powers by interfering with New Haven's affairs. ICE officials named in the suit include then-assistant secretary of Homeland Security for ICE Julie Myers and the former head of the ICE Office of Detention and Removal Operations [official website] John Torres. Yale faculty and law students are representing [Yale Daily News report] the 10 residents in the suit.

In June 2007, the New Haven Board of Alderman voted [JURIST report] 25-1 to fund a program to provide a municipal identification card to all residents, including the approximately 15,000 undocumented immigrants that reside in New Haven. The measure went into effect [JURIST report] in July 2007, allowing cardholders to access public libraries, parks and recreational sites, and other municipal services as well as serving as debit cards and payment for parking meters. Since its creation in 2003, ICE has been criticized for many of the methods it uses to capture and detain illegal immigrants. In August, the agency announced plans to implement large-scale changes to its immigration detention system, and in the same month acknowledged [JURIST reports] that 11 deaths in immigration detention had gone unreported [press release]. In July, the Immigration Justice Clinic [academic website] at the Cardozo School of Law released a report [text, PDF; JURIST report] saying that immigration agents have committed numerous constitutional violations during raids on immigrants' homes.

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