Danbury Laborers Fight Unjust Arrests

New York Times, November 10, 2014

One September day in 2006, the police in Danbury, Conn., and agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement did a deplorable thing. An undercover officer, posing as a contractor, picked up some day laborers at a local park, drove them to a nearby parking lot and handed them over to waiting ICE agents. The laborers, 11 men from Ecuador, have been fighting deportation ever since.

They argue that the arrests violated the Fourth Amendment. They say they were targets of the sting not because they were known to be violating any laws or to be criminal suspects, or for any other justifiable reason, but solely because they look Latino. {snip}

A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit rejected their plea in August, in a 2-to-1 vote. The majority noted that the Supreme Court had set a high bar for excluding evidence in civil deportation hearings because arguments over the admissibility of evidence would make such proceedings hopelessly long. {snip}

The immigrants, defended by the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization at Yale Law School, are appealing, seeking a hearing from the full circuit court. The court should grant it.

It should heed arguments of the dissenting judge, Gerard Lynch, who deplored the majority’s refusal to accept that the arrests were fundamentally unfair. “I have little trouble concluding that ethnically based targeting of day laborers constitutes an ‘egregious’ constitutional violation,” he wrote. {snip}

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Danbury is hardly alone in having a disgraceful record of police harassment of Latinos. In courtrooms across the country, day laborers have been fighting unjust loitering ordinances, ticketing blitzes and unconstitutional crackdowns like Danbury’s. Americans who deplore such abuses based on skin color, ethnicity or race should support their cause.

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