The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency entered the homes of immigrant families without warrants, consent or probable cause – in violation of the Fourth Amendment – solely to detain and deport families, mostly women and children. The raids took place in Georgia in January 2016.
In response to the raids, the SPLC filed a lawsuit against the United States of America. The complaint details the ways in which ICE agents violated the civil rights of the families by entering into homes under false pretenses.
In one instance, ICE agents impersonated police officers searching for a criminal suspect, and threatened a family member with arrest for obstruction of a fictitious criminal investigation for denying them entry into his home. In two other raids, ICE agents falsely claimed they were local police officers searching for a criminal suspect in the home. They showed the residents a photo of an African-American man whom they claimed was the suspect in a criminal investigation, in order to gain entry into the home. After gaining entry, the officers informed the occupants that they were, in fact, ICE agents, and seized residents who were legally present in the U.S. for detention and deportation.
The SPLC filed the lawsuit in conjunction with Barnwell Whaley Patterson & Helms (the Barnwell Whaley law firm).
The SPLC urges ICE to immediately halt the use of these unconstitutional and deceptive practices, and is seeking damages for subjects of the raids under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) for false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
In its initial response to the raids, the SPLC released a comprehensive report featuring stories from women swept up in the ICE raids that began on Jan. 2, 2016. The report found that the federal government has engaged in a needlessly aggressive strategy against immigrants in raids that targeted women and children from Central America.
The SPLC filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request within days of the 2016 raids, seeking information about the warrants. After the SPLC did not receive the complete records, it filed a complaint, arguing that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and ICE had failed to release adequate records, in violation of the Freedom of Information Act. A federal court ordered DHS and ICE to comply with the FOIA request by Feb. 16, 2018.