A project of the Center for Community Change

Home Raids Violate the Constitution (tell us something we didn’t already know)

This week, Cardozo School of Law released a report asserting that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) not only violated their own rules during home raids in New York and New Jersey, but also violated the U.S. Constitution. For those of you who have followed the story of ICE’s unchecked power under the Bush administration, this comes as no surprise. From the New York Times:

The raids were supposed to focus on dangerous criminals, but overwhelmingly netted Latinos with civil immigration violations who happened to be present, the study said. Raiders mistakenly held legal residents and citizens by force in their own homes while agents rummaged through drawers seeking incriminating documents, the report said.

Some of the most egregious portions of the report include emails obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, showing that ICE agents saw the rounding up of immigrants and Latinos as nothing more than a glorified game of cops and robbers.

…A federal immigration agent in Connecticut invited a state trooper to join a scheduled set of raids in New Haven, writing: “We have 18 addresses — so it should be a fun time! Let me know if you guys can play!

These are not games and they should not be treated as such. The conduct of ICE and therefore of DHS has been in direct conflict with the U.S. Constitution and the rules that the agency itself purports to follow.

Despite all of this and OVERWHELMING evidence that the so-called 287(g) program, which gives local law enforcement agencies the ability to enforce federal immigration law, is rampant with abuse and racial profiling, the Department of Homeland Security recently signed 11 new 287(g) agreements across the country.Keep in mind, this is the same program that keeps Joe Arpaio in power for his reign of terror in Arizona.

While DHS claims that much has changed under the new administration, I don’t think they are going far enough. Janet Napolitano needs to step up as the head of DHS and stop the racialized attack on Latinos and immigrants. This isn’t just about immigration, this is about the character of our country and our values. Do we want to endorse a program that violates the rights of those the Constitution supposedly protects? Do we want to create communities teeming with fear and distrust of law enforcement agencies who are their to “serve and protect”?

I think you know the answer.

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