by Jason Hopkins
A federal court has reversed an illegal alien’s deportation order, a ruling that could have significant implications on how Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) conducts apprehensions.
A three-judge panel on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that Gregoria Perez Cruz, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, should not be deported. Perez was among many illegal employees who were arrested at a work site and ordered to leave the U.S. The court, however, found that his apprehension was outside the parameter’s of ICE’s search warrant, according to The Associated Press.
The subject of Perez’s arrest and deportation order dates back over a decade.
ICE received an anonymous tip in 2006 that Micro Solutions Enterprises, a company that makes printer cartridges, was employing 200 to 300 illegal aliens. The agency conducted a raid of their Los Angeles plant after it was able to obtain an arrest warrant for eight employees and a search warrant for employment-related documents.
At the time of the raid, around 100 armed agents stormed the plant, blocked all exits, and ordered everyone not to use their cellphones. While women were taken to a cafeteria, men were told to form two lines: One line of people who had work authorization and one line of people who did not.
Perez was handcuffed and questioned by agents. After admitting to an agent that he was living in the U.S. illegally, he was bused to a detention center and ordered to be deported.
However, Perez’s legal team argued ICE acted outside its authority by making wide-scale arrests with only a search warrant for records. ICE appeared prepared to detain hundreds of individuals — an internal memo issued before the operation stated that the agency would be “conducting a search warrant and expects to make 150-200 arrests” and have as many as five buses to transport detainees.
An immigration judge later nixed the agency’s deportation order, but that decision was overturned by the Board of Immigration Appeals. That decision ultimately led to the 9th Circuit Court ruling on Thursday.
“[The] search warrant here authorized a search only for the employer’s records — presumably, paper documents or electronic files. Yet, the agents used the warrant’s authority to enter the working area and detain hundreds of workers. Why a search for records required going onto the floor of a large printer-cartridge factory is unclear,” wrote Judge Marsha Berzon.
Perez was represented by attorney Noemi Ramirez and the American Civil Liberties Union. Ramirez predicted that the decision will impact how ICE conducts raids in the future.
“ICE cannot carry out preplanned mass detentions, interrogations, and arrests that violate a person’s Fourth Amendment rights,” said Ramirez, according to The Associated Press. “This victory is not merely Mr. Perez’s victory, but a victory for people that value freedom, that believe the Constitution means what it says and for those that believe that the immigrant community is not alone in their struggle.”
All three judges on the panel were appointed by Democratic presidents. Both Berzon and District Judge Daniel Dominguez were chosen by former President Bill Clinton, and Michelle Friedland was appointed by former President Barack Obama.
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