The federal government has agreed to pay $350,000 to settle a civil rights lawsuit filed by 11 Latino immigrants who were arrested in 2007 in a series of immigration raids at their homes in New Haven, Conn., the New York Times reports.
The plaintiffs, all men, argued immigration agents violated their rights when armed federal agents entered their homes without their consent, drew their weapons, forced them out of bed and frightened young children.
"I remember everything that happened to me that morning as if it were yesterday," plaintiff Edinson Yangua Calva told the AP. "There are things I haven’t been able to get over, it is something that stays with you forever."
The lawsuit claimed that during the raids, armed federal officers violated the constitutional rights of the 11 men by arresting them in their homes without warrants and without inquiring about their immigration status, informing them of their rights or explaining why they were being detained. In all, 29 suspected illegal immigrants were arrested during the raids, the plaintiffs’ lawyers said.
The operation began two days after the city approved a plan to offer identification cards to all city residents, including illegal immigrants. The lawsuit claimed that the operation began in retaliation for the plan, a charge the federal government denied.
Court records from an earlier related case say the ICE agents entered immigrants’ homes in New Haven without warrants, probable cause or their consent.
The settlement "shows what can happen when people have the courage to stand together to defend their basic human rights," Michael J. Wishnie, co-director of the Yale group, the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic, told the Times. "This settlement establishes that no one is above the law, including immigration agents."
The settlement is believed to be the largest ever paid by the United States government in a lawsuit over residential immigration raids.