ICE Performs Warrantless Raid Of Private Farm; Draws Heat From State And Federal Officials
from the 'rule-of-law,'-my-ass dept
A recent ICE raid of a New York farm made national headlines thanks to the agency’s apparent disregard for the Fourth Amendment, among other things. The show of force, coupled with the lack of Constitutional compliance, presented ICE as ruthless enforcers of the law. But there’s not much respect for the “rule of law” contained in these actions, no matter how the current administration — with its emphasis on expelling foreigners from the US — presents itself.
John Collins was standing outside the milk house at his dairy farm this morning when he heard yelling coming from inside. He ran in, he says, and saw his worker, Marcial de Leon Aguilar, pinned up against the window by armed men.
The men did not identify themselves and were screaming at Aguilar, Collins said.
“I run and say, ‘What the hell is going on in here?'” Collins said.
Then the men told Collins they were officers with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He asked them for a warrant or some paperwork to explain what they were doing. They had none, he said, so he ordered them to get off his property and leave Aguilar alone.
As this happened, Collins said, Aguilar’s children watched. They were waiting nearby for the school bus to come. Collins said the officers put Aguilar in handcuffs and took him across the rural road to their vehicles. At least seven officers had come onto the small farm, Collins said.
This resulted in immediate backlash from prominent New York government officials. Governor Andrew Cuomo sent an angry letter [PDF] to the agency chastising it for its apparent refusal to respect Constitutional protections.
Your agency’s aggressive claims of upholding the rule of law belie the fact that the pattern of conduct and blatant constitutional violations committed by both agents in the field and regional leadership actually reflect a readiness to sink to lawlessness.
The persistent failure of your agents to properly identify themselves or produce required documentation to conduct lawful searches and arrests is illegal and creates significant risk of harm to all New Yorkers, including law enforcement who have also been left unaware of your activities within the communities they are entrusted to protect.
NY Senator Kirsten Gillibrand followed the governor’s letter with a demand for a federal investigation.
Unbelievably, ICE thinks its actions — a warrantless raid conducted on private property — are Constitutional.
Agents were within their rights to be on the farm and did not need a warrant, ICE spokesperson Khaalid Walls told [Vice Media’s Eoin Higgins] in an email. The agency said that its actions were justified because de Leon-Aguilar’s wife Virginia, who is enrolled in the Alternatives to Detention program, which allows her to stay out of immigration detention while she goes through immigration court proceedings, had missed a number of appointments.
“After having missed several scheduled reporting dates,” said Walls, “the resident was deemed to be out of compliance with the terms of the program, necessitating a home visit, which does not require a judicial warrant.”
This is wrong. First of all, the raided farm was private property. Even if a home visit was in order, the home resided on property owned by someone else. This wasn’t a rental property with only a door separating residents from the outside world. And this was no “home visit.” The plainclothes ICE officers showed up, trespassed on private property, and effected an arrest. No permission to enter was sought and no warrant was presented.
ICE can’t honestly say it doesn’t need warrants to perform these actions. Its own training manual (published by Unicorn Riot) stresses the need for warrants. Searches still require warrants, even if they’re looking for illegal activity. ICE can search businesses for illegal workers, but it still needs “Blackie’s” warrants (named after a 1981 case brought against the INS), which allow the government to search for people, rather than property. There is no known warrant exception to intrude on private land to search for illegal workers. ICE may feel the Alternatives to Detention program gives it the right to search homes occupied by members of the program (and it does), but when the home resides on property owned by a US citizen, the barrier to entry remains a search warrant. The immigrant arrested in this case had proper documentation to work and resided in a house owned by John Collins on the Collins’ property. To reach the house, ICE had to enter private property owned by someone ICE had zero interest in: a legal resident and American citizen.
The lawsuit that’s certain to follow this intrusion will sort out the Constitutionality of ICE’s actions. At this point, they appear completely unconstitutional, but qualified immunity and the good faith exception may allow the agency to escape liability for the actions of its officers.