Monday, January 28, 2008

NJ Federal Lawsuit Demands Documents About Warrantless ICE Raids in NJ

On Monday, January 28, 2008, the Seton Hall Law School's Center for Social Justice and a newspaper called the Brazilian Voice filed a lawsuit in New Jersey federal district court to demand that the Department of Homeland Security release documents about its pre-dawn, warrantless raids of people's homes under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

According to Seton Hall Law School and the Brazilian Voice, ICE agents enter people's homes before dawn without search warrants and use intimidation and on occasion force to question everyone in the homes. ICE agents then arrest people who cannot immediately prove they have legal resident status. They cite ICE statistics that of 2,079 so-called fugitive arrests in 2007 in New Jersey, 87% of the people arrested had no criminal record.

Bassina Farbenblum of the Seton Hall Law Center for Social Justice said "Many victims of the raids believe they were duped or coerced into opening their door to ICE agents, and still have no idea why their family was targeted. Often the individuals arrested in a raid have lived in the U.S. for years, raised U.S.-citizen children, worked hard, paid taxes and established community ties." Scott Thompson of Lowenstein Sandler is representing the Seton Hall Law Center for Social Justice and said that because no official records are available, there is no way to know whether ICE agents had lawful authority or a legitimate basis for entering a home.

On December 14, 2007, the Seton Hall Law Center for Social Justice and the Brazilian Voice filed FOIA requests about 40 suspected raids. So far, DHS apparently rejected the request for expedited processing because the raids are supposedly not an issue of public interest. It is hard to understand DHS's position when warrantless raids are the subject of lawsuits and cases across the country and widespread media publicity. It will be very interesting to see how DHS attempts to defend its position in district court. It is just too bad that it takes a time-consuming federal lawsuit to push DHS to comply with the FOIA law that Congress demands all federal agencies honor.

Associated Press writer Jeffrey Gold printed an article titled "Law school, newspaper seek documents on immigration raids" on January 28, 2008.

A copy of the lawsuit is available at:


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