Long Island ICE raids challenged

On Oct. 2, officials in Nassau County on New York’s Long Island called for a federal investigation into an “anti-gang” sweep carried out by ICE Sept. 24-30 during which 186 immigrants were arrested in Nassau and neighboring Suffolk county. Nassau officials said the vast majority of those arrested were not gang members and that local police were misled and endangered by the operation. Nassau County police commissioner Lawrence W. Mulvey noted that many US citizens and legal residents were rousted from bed and required to produce papers during the raids, and that all but 6 of the 96 administrative warrants issued by the immigration enforcement agency in the alleged search for gang members had wrong or outdated addresses. Peter J. Smith, an ICE special agent in charge of the operation, called the Nassau county officials’ allegations “without merit.”

“We didn’t have warrants,” said Smith. “We don’t need warrants to make the arrests. These are illegal immigrants.” Smith said that of the 186 people arrested in the two counties, 28 were identified as gang members (13 in Nassau and 15 in Suffolk) and 129 as “associates of gang members” (79 in Nassau and 50 in Suffolk). Asked how the agency defined “associates of gang members,” Smith replied, “If you’re hanging with gang members and you’re eating with gang members, there’s an affiliation there.” Smith said 59 of those arrested had previous criminal convictions that might make them deportable. All 186 face deportation proceedings; apparently none face criminal charges. Suffolk County police commissioner Richard Dormer expressed complete support for the ICE raids. (New York Times, Oct. 2, 3)

On Oct. 5, several families and individuals from Suffolk, Nassau and Westchester counties filed a request in US District Court in Manhattan for a temporary restraining order to prevent ICE from conducting further raids without court-issued search warrants. The plaintiffs are represented by the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund and a private law firm. The petition names 27 plaintiffs who are also listed in a class-action lawsuit filed Sept. 20, alleging that ICE raids in the three New York counties in February, March and September 2007 violated their constitutional right to be free from unreasonable searches by the government. (Newsday, Long Island, Oct. 6)

From Immigration News Briefs, Oct. 28

See our last posts on the immigration crackdown and the Long Island raids.