On Monday, ACS joined CJAN, SIRR, and LaLSA in presenting "Immigration Enforcement and the Obama Administration." The panel discussion featured Joanne Lin, Legislative Counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union, Diana Sen, Associate Counsel for LatinoJustice, and Rebecca Reilly, an Associate with Dewey & LeBoeuf.
Immigrant communities have been greatly impacted in recent years by home and workplace raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The panel discussed these raids and what changes might be expected under the Obama administration.
Ms. Reilly began by describing the experience of immigrants during an ICE raid. Often occurring between 3 and 6 in the morning, agents pound on the door until admitted, and then begin sweeping the home for fugitive people, often with guns drawn. The raids understandably terrify those subjected to them. Ms. Reilly explained that there is usually no consent given by the subject of the raid, not a request for consent. Furthermore, there is usually no warrant, nor any probable cause. If individuals are detained and then released upon verification of their citizenship status, no apology is offered, nor even transportation home. Ms. Reilly suggested that these raids violate the 4th Amendment, and also present an equal protection problem in that ICE tends to call off the raid when a non-Latino individual opens the door.
Ms. Reilly described a class action suit that have been brought against 61 defendants, including Michael Chertoff and 52 ICE agents and supervisors, alleging violations of the 4th and 5th Amendments, Bivens and FTCA claims. Ms. Sen then spoke about litigation resulting from ICE raids that LatinoJustice is involved with. She explained some of the difficulties in bringing such cases and discussed a particular example in which it appears the government has litigated in bad faith, and now faces paying a steep fine to the plaintiffs.
Ms. Lin then spoke about how immigration enforcement might change under the Obama administration. She discussed a likely end to workplace raids, and an emphasis on punishing employers who break the law, rather than the immigrant workers. She also spoke about problems related to increased efforts by local law enforcement to enforce immigration laws and the resulting terrorizing of some immigrant communities. There is also pressure exerted on immigration issues from the ongoing war on drugs. However, Ms. Lin was hopeful that immigration may now no longer be a losing political issue, but one where consensus can be reached and progress made.