All of the plaintiffs lived in New Jersey, and most were citizens or lawful residents of the United States, when armed agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) entered their homes without judicial warrants, or voluntary consent from any household member, in violation of Plaintiffs’ clearly-established constitutional rights. During the course of eight separate raids on Plaintiffs’ homes, SWAT-style teams of ICE agents struck in the pre-dawn hours, entered the homes by deception or physical force, searched the entire house, and proceeded to question all of the occupants about their immigration status. In several homes the ICE agents terrified household members (including young children) by pointing guns at them, threatening to take children away from their parents, promising deportation or loss of residency status, and telling them that they could not speak to an attorney and/or that they had no legal rights. In other homes, the agents deliberately disregarded evidence of lawful residency, detained individuals with every right to be in the United States, confiscated or damaged their property, and – in one case – threatened to come back and do it again.
All nine individuals will now share in a $295,000 settlement. This works out to a little under $10,000 per overzealous law enforcement official and about $42,000 for each of the seven families involved- what a nice Christmas present!