Recent Immigration Raids Violate Fourth Amendment

| by Reason Foundation

Edward Schumacher-Matos writes in today's Washington Post that Immigration and Customs Enforcement teams conducting immigration raids are routinely violating the Fourth Amendment. After discussing a wrong-door immigration raid on a former Marine and his wife in Arizona, Schumacher-Matos explains:

It would be easy to dismiss the episode as isolated, but 100 seven-member teams of ICE agents across the country are regularly making similar house calls, usually in the pre-dawn hours, in SWAT-like raids with shotguns and automatic rifles, sometimes crawling through open windows. In place of search warrants issued by a judge, ICE agents carry administrative warrants issued by one of their own officials that require that they "knock and talk" to gain entry into a home, a policy often abused...

The raids are supposed to be aimed at fugitive illegal immigrants who have committed criminal acts, but it appears they're being used to rope up non-criminal undocumented workers (illegal immigration is a violation of civil law, not criminal law).

The "knock and talk" warrants require the police to get permission before entering. But that didn't happen in the wrong-door example Schumacher-Matos used to lead off his column. And it doesn't appear to be happening elsewhere, either.

The Cardozo study examined 700 arrests between 2006 and 2008 on Long Island and in New Jersey and found that agents said they had not received informed consent to enter the homes in 86 percent of the Long Island cases and 24 percent of the New Jersey ones. Conflicting information in the New Jersey arrest records suggests that the reported consent there was often fabricated or misreported, the Cardozo study says.

Two-thirds of the arrests were happenstance -- they were mostly of Latinos whose only crime was a civil one of working here illegally. "The high percentage of collateral arrests is consistent with allegations that ICE agents are using home raids for purported targets as a pretext to enter homes" and arrest as many people as they can to meet quotas that in 2006 were increased eightfold to 1,000 a year per team, the report said.

Violations were so flagrant on Long Island that local police withdrew their support and accused ICE of being reckless and dangerous, and of undermining a relationship of trust with the Latino community that had been helping to reduce crime. Mounting evidence elsewhere suggests that the raids are out of control nationally.

It looks as if we can add "illegal immigration" to the growing list of issues so critical, they deserve exceptions to the Fourth Amendment.