Posted on May 22, 2024

ICE Ordered to Stop Knock-And-Talk Tactic for Immigration Arrests in LA

Edvard Pettersson, Courthouse News Service, May 16, 2024

A federal judge this week ordered U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to stop using so-called knock-and-talk tactics, a method for immigration arrests in which field officers enter a property without a judicial warrant or consent, then arrest undocumented immigrants when they come to the door.

In a decision on Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Otis Wright II, a George W. Bush appointee, said the practice amounts to “knock-and-arrest” and violates Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. These protections, he noted, include the curtilage around one’s home, such as yards and porches that are part of the property.

By entering this curtilage armed with only an administrative arrest warrant — not a judicial one — immigration officers were violating these protections, Wright said. He noted that while officers pretended they only wanted to talk when they knocked, the real purpose was making immigration arrests.

Plaintiffs, including migrants themselves, hoped for a full injunction blocking the practice. Wright did not go that far, instead vacating knock-and-talk policies and practices used by ICE’s Los Angeles field office for civil immigration arrests.

“Here, either vacatur or an injunction would suffice to strike down ICE’s ‘knock and talk’ policy,” Wright reasoned in his decision. But unlike a vacatur, “an injunction would restrain defendants from, in the future, attempting to institute a modified or amended version of the ‘knock and talk’ policy that complies with constitutional limitations.”


Backed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the UC Irvine School of Law Immigrant Rights Clinic and lawyers from Los-Angeles based Munger, Tolles & Olson, a group of migrants in 2020 filed a class action over these methods. {snip}