LOS ANGELES – A Los Angeles federal judge has granted class certification in a lawsuit challenging U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement’s alleged practice of impersonating police officers when conducting warrantless arrests of community members at their homes, two immigrant rights groups announced Thursday.
“This development is monumental for the millions of undocumented people who consider the U.S. their home,” said Lizbeth Abeln, deportation defense director of the Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice, a plaintiff in the case.
“We will continue to equip community members with knowledge of their rights while standing steadfast in our fight to end ICE’s abusive practices. All people deserve due process but, above all, they should be able to feel safe in their own homes.”
The order issued Tuesday certifies two classes of residents in the Southern California region, including Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside counties, who have been or are at risk of being subjected to the policies and practices challenged in the lawsuit.
“Families subjected to these deceptive ICE procedures are unknowingly thrown into a carceral system they lack the legal resources to face,” said Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, the second plaintiff in the case.
“These tactics are incursions into the privacy of our community members’ homes that gravely undermine efforts to bring about public safety by fostering trust,” she said. “The court can and should put a stop to these unconstitutional practices once and for all.”
The plaintiffs contend that tactics where ICE conducts an immigration enforcement operation at a home without proper identification by agents or without a warrant or valid consent are unconstitutional. Evidence shows that these practices are widespread and have been endorsed by high-ranking officials in the agency, the civil rights groups allege.
“The court’s decision confirms that ICE’s practices impact not just a handful of individuals but our community as a whole,” said Stephanie Padilla, staff attorney with the ACLU Foundation of Southern California. “Now, we can proceed with seeking class-wide relief against ICE’s unconstitutional enforcement actions.”
A hearing on pending motions is set for Feb. 23 in Los Angeles federal court.
The lawsuit was filed in April 2020 on behalf of Osny Sorto-Vasquez Kidd, a Hacienda Heights resident who is a recipient of the Obama-era program known as DACA — Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — and the two regional immigrant rights groups.
According to the lawsuit, ICE policy does not prohibit officers from impersonating another government agency to gain entry into a home or lure an individual outside.
Kidd is seeking damages for the alleged harms suffered when ICE officers “unconstitutionally impersonated local police officers and entered the curtilage of his home to arrest him without a warrant” in the fall of 2018.
“Unless this Court intervenes to stop Defendants from continuing to engage in these tactics, an untold number of people will be subjected to violations of their rights at home,” the suit alleges.
Yes everybody should have due process but that doesn’t mean come on in and illegally make a home here and hide out from ICE while u make zero effort to be legal. You shouldn’t be here in the first place go back to where u came from and do it legally. Like respectable people.