Federal Judge Curbs ICE’s Power to Catch Illegal Migrants

(RightWing.org) – Law enforcement officials use “knock-and-talk” strategies to gain entry into a person’s residence to gather intelligence, conduct preliminary investigations, and make arrests. Officers go to a home, knock on the door, and ask permission to enter and talk. SCOTUS and other federal courts have upheld the practice’s constitutionality with some limitations. A federal judge recently curbed Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE’s) power to use the tactic.

On May 15, US District Judge Otis D. Wright II (California Central District) issued an order that granted the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment in a suit involving ICE’s use of knock-and-talks.

The George W. Bush appointee held that “the system-wide policies and practices” of entering an individual’s home “for the purpose of arresting the occupant violate the Fourth Amendment” and the Administrative Procedure Act, legislation governing federal administrative agencies proposed and established regulations.

Wright also vacated “any policies and practices” that allow officials in ICE’s Los Angeles field office to conduct enforcement removal operations (ERO) within their area of responsibility (AOR) that use knock-and-talks to carry out arrests without a judicial warrant or express consent. Additionally, the order barred “any agents with Homeland Security Investigations” from participating in those EROs.

The court’s 26-page order readily conceded that the US Supreme Court had ruled that knock-and-talks were constitutional when they involved criminal arrest warrants. However, Wright’s order explained that deportation proceedings and ICE’s administrative arrest warrants were civil. Accordingly, he held that knock-and-talk tactics, as defined and executed by the agency, violated the US Constitution.

Opponents of the ruling say Wright’s order makes America less safe by curtailing the long-standing practice of using knock-and-talks to arrest and deport illegal migrants. Supporters cite the ruling as a positive move since it supports Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Fortunately, Wright’s order only applies to the Los Angeles Field Office of Ice. Its area of responsibility (AOR) includes seven counties: Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, San Bernadino, Ventura, Riverside, and Orange.

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