Immigration Raids Circumventing Fourth Amendment

Sunday, August 2nd, 2009

Edward Schumacher-Matos writes in today’s Washington Post that Immigration and Customs Enforcement teams conducting immigration rates 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.

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12 Responses to “Immigration Raids Circumventing Fourth Amendment”

  1. #1 |  Michael Pack | 

    you don’t have to be a immigrant.The act of driving seems to remove the 4th also,and the 5th.

  2. #2 |  Bob | 

    So, basically… these guys are given a QUOTA of 1000 arrests per team per year, then implicitly told to just break in and make arrests.

    And they are able to actually find enough zero ethics assholes to fill these jobs?

    The scary part… besides all that… is if they STOP doing this? All these Commando-Cops will just look for work in regular departments. Which, arguably… have way too many of these assholes already.

  3. #3 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Violations were so flagrant on Long Island that local police withdrew their support and accused ICE of being reckless and dangerous…

    Holy Christ. And this is coming from a police department? Wouldn’t they have to be doing something pretty egregious to be called reckless by another law enforcement agency? Like maybe just picking houses at random and beating the shit out of the occupants? I mean, would even that be enough to do it?

  4. #4 |  Mattocracy | 

    If you’re a non-citizen, then it’s easier for the state to abuse you since you aren’t a real person with rights and protections. I mean, fuck, you’re a criminal. We all know that law breakers forfeit their rights once they commit their crime (or so we’re told). Especially when it’s a crime committed where there is no violence or victim, like illegal immigration.

    I think they do something similar by charging minors with distributing child porn via sexting. Then they get their rights taken away before they even get a chance to exercise them.

    It’s a hell of a racket.

  5. #5 |  Stephen | 

    If I ever win the lottery, I am going to build a SWAT proof house.

    I wonder if anyone has done this yet? Not like Waco or ruby ridge, but just a very solid house that they can’t bust into.

  6. #6 |  ktc2 | 


    I’ve had the same idea, even put a little thought into the structural design.

    I was wondering if there is a market for it yet.

  7. #7 |  Marty | 

    even beyond the 4th amendment, this goes so far past human decency… these bureaucrats are destroying these families’ lives, causing hardships with businesses employing and serving them, and causing hardships with landlords trying to hold their investments together.

    these are THE jackbooted thugs. they’ll probably be coming after the people with tax debts next.

  8. #8 |  nemo | 

    “Knock and talk” has been around for a long time. The goal is to get ‘chummy’ with the target and gain enough information to attempt a warrant-less entry based upon anything said that might be self-incriminatory. Many will carry pocket recorders with them for that purpose. And giving them entry to your residence automatically voids what little 4th Amendment protections you had until that moment. The judge will expect you to ‘know’ that, a fact which cops are not about to tell you.

    A good rule of thumb: don’t talk to cops without a lawyer present, and since that’s just about 99.99% of us, then don’t talk to cops. period. If they show up at your door, acting all nice, they almost certainly don’t have a warrant…and are looking for pretext to justify a warrant-less entry. You are well within your rights to tell them that you do not wish to speak with them.

    This is what the War on Drugs has brought us. Automatic distrust of police, who see their paymasters as nothing but a potential arrest quota number. All to save the kiddies from druuuuuugs, of course…

  9. #9 |  nemo | 

    And I believe that Radley had linked to this video before. It does a better job than I can of explaining why you should not talk to police without a lawyer being present.

  10. #10 |  ktc2 | 

    I’m actually surprised that there’s enough of the 4th left for them to have to circumvent.

  11. #11 |  JS | 

    Yea I’m with ktc@ there. Who cares about the constitution? Why bother to keep up the pretense that the police state is bound by rule of law anymore?

  12. #12 |  Cajjnk | 

    “(illegal immigration is a violation of civil law, not criminal law).”

    Yes and no. Being an undocumented migrant present in the United States, alone, is not a crime. Entering the United States illegally (e.g., by entering at a place not designated for entry, avoiding inspection, presenting false papers, etc.) is a crime, but mere presence is not necessarily illegal. Entering the country illegally carries a maximum 6-month sentence for a first offense, and up to two years for a subsequent offense.

    For those aliens who have been previously deported, however, it is a crime just to be in the country illegally–and it can be a serious crime. Depending on the alien’s criminal history, they can face up to 20 years in prison. Both of these crimes (illegal entry and illegal re-entry following a deportation) are located at 8 U.S.C. ยงยง 1325 and 1326.

    Violating the Fourth Amendment does not preclude the government from prosecuting individuals for the crime of illegal re-entry, since even if they were unlawfully arrested or detained, their identity and the fact of their prior deportation cannot be suppressed. So there is little incentive to obey the law during their arrest.

    None of this justifies violating the Fourth Amendment.