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Court green-lights lawsuit challenging ICE


Hallie Ryan
Managing Attorney, Legal Aid Justice Center

A federal court has given the green light to a lawsuit challenging ICE’s use of warrantless home invasions and vehicle stops, denying the government’s Motion to Dismiss and allowing the lawsuit to continue into discovery.  This is one of the first rulings of its kind since President Trump took office.

The case stems from two separate instances last year in Arlington and Fairfax County, Virginia, and alleges that a team of ICE agents employed illegal search and seizure methods along with racial profiling to detain nine residents.

In the first incident, ICE agents invaded the Arlington County home of a U.S. citizen without a warrant in the early morning hours.  The plaintiffs allege that the agents went from bedroom to bedroom, including barging in on a sleeping grandmother and child, rounding up all of the Latino occupants without any reason to believe they had committed any crime or violated the immigration laws.  The agents then asked the homeowner if there were other “Spanish families” in the neighborhood.  

In the second incident, two Latino Fairfax County men were heading to work when an unmarked SUV blocked their car from pulling out of its parking spot.  The lawsuit alleges that the same ICE agents jumped out of the SUV and proceeded to detain the men without any reason to believe they had committed any crime or violated immigration laws. 

The lawsuit, filed last fall by the Legal Aid Justice Center and the law firm of Covington & Burling LLP against the ICE agents involved in the two incidents, contends that the plaintiffs’ 4th and 5th Amendment constitutional rights were violated when they were stopped and their homes searched, and that the plaintiffs were targets of these illegal searches because of their Latino ethnicity.  (The 4th Amendment to the Constitution protects people in the U.S. against unreasonable search and seizure, ensuring that law enforcement must have a credible reason to believe that the person is engaged in illegal activity in order to search and/or detain him. The equal protection clause of the 5th Amendment protects against racial profiling by law enforcement).

In the April 5th ruling, the U.S. District Court in Alexandria found that the plaintiffs have stated a case that their constitutional rights were violated by the ICE agents, and found that the court has proper jurisdiction over the case and can hear it. 

Read the legal ruling (PDF)


About Legal Aid Justice Center:
The Legal Aid Justice Center (LAJC) fights injustice in the lives of individual Virginians while rooting out the inequities that keep people in poverty through litigation, policy advocacy, and community organizing. LAJC’s Immigration Advocacy Program supports low-income immigrants in their efforts to find justice and fair treatment. 

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