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Immigration Officials Violated Immigrants’ Rights
Some time ago Immigration Judge Ashley Tabaddor stopped the deportation case against Gregorio Perez Cruz because agents of IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT (ICE) violated his Civil and Constitutional Rights. Evidence presented to the Judge proved that armed ICE agents illegally prohibited workers from leaving the factory where they worked. They then illegally detained and questioned them. Federal Rule 8 CFR 287.8(b) prohibits federal agents from conducting arrests without an arrest warrant unless they have a “reasonable suspicion” that a person has committed a crime. No such “reasonable suspicion” existed in this case.
In that occasion the armed ICE agents detained more than 200 workers and deprived them of food and water for more than 18 hours before they were illegally interrogated. The immigrant victims included several pregnant women. The evidence further established that the armed ICE agents did not inform the detained immigrants that they had a right to remain silent (not answer any questions) and to be represented by an attorney. The Judge found that ICE agents improperly arrested all workers, including dozens of U.S. citizens, for being in the country illegally. Immigration Court rules require the Judge to stop deportation proceedings if government officials violate Federal Regulations in a way that affects the rights of people they arrest.
Mr. Cruz was represented by attorneys of the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) and attorney Noemi Ramirez. Ahilan Arulanantham of the ACLU said “We are pleased that the Judge recognized the coercive and illegal tactics immigration officials used in carrying out this work site raid. This decision sends a strong message to immigration officials that they must not violate their own policy governing the rights of detainees and they cannot use intimidation and other illegal tactics when conducting enforcement operations.” The ACLU and other Civil and Immigrant Rights organizations filed a lawsuit against ICE immediately after this raid because the immigrants’ attorneys were not being allowed to accompany their clients during questioning. ICE later agreed that the immigrants had a legal right to have their attorneys present during questioning.
Many of the other immigrant workers illegally arrested and detained in this raid were represented by attorneys from other important Civil Rights and Immigrant Rights organizations. These include:
National Lawyers Guild, American Immigration Lawyer Association, Coalition for Humane Immigrants’ Rights of Los Angeles, Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, National Immigration Law Center, and the Central American Resource Center.
This and many other cases demonstrate that undocumented immigrants do have legal and Constitutional rights. It also shows that Judges can and do respect and enforce these rights if properly and effectively presented in our courts. Unfortunately, this case also established that Immigration Officials did aggressively violate many rights of many immigrants and even some U.S. citizens. Always seek immediate assistance from an experienced attorney if you are involved in any legal dispute. ¡NO SE DEJE! ®
JESS J. ARAUJO, ESQ.