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SPLC investigating legality of ICE raids

Federal immigration raids in Georgia, Texas and North Carolina over the past weekend raise serious questions about whether federal agents violated constitutional standards or used illegal tactics to detain immigrant families seeking safety in the United States.

Today, we’ve filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the federal government and public records requests in three Atlanta-area counties as part of our investigation into the legality of the raids, in which a total of 121 people– including numerous children – were detained for deportation.

The decision by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to target women and children, many of whom fled violence in their countries and sought refuge in the United States, is simply unconscionable.

Seizing sleeping children from their beds and placing them in prison-like facilities undermines our core values and does nothing to make us safer.

These raids have led to widespread panic and fear in immigrant communities around the country. They also undermine trust in local law enforcement. Children are afraid of going to school. Parents fear going to work. And neighbors have stopped opening their doors to one another.

Our preliminary investigation indicates that ICE and cooperating local law enforcement agencies used coercion and deception as part of the raids in Cobb, DeKalb and Gwinnett counties in Georgia.

We must ensure that ICE, the nation’s largest law enforcement agency, adheres to the highest standards of conduct. Sanctioning its use of illegal tactics endangers the rights of all Americans to be safe and secure in their homes.

We will review the public records related to these raids, continue to monitor the situation and take any other action we deem appropriate. In the meantime, we urge everyone to exercise their Fourth Amendment right to safety and security in their own homes by demanding to see a warrant before letting a law enforcement officer enter the premises.

Cho is a staff attorney with the SPLC’s Mass Incarceration Project and focuses on immigration detention and enforcement issues.