Aguilar, et al. v. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), et al. Historic Case

At a Glance

Current Status 

The case was settled on April 4, 2013, requiring new national policies governing the conduct of immigration agents during raids; $1 million in damages and fees for 22 plaintiffs; and immigration benefits for several of our clients.

Date Filed: 

September 20, 2007

Co-Counsel 

LatinoJustice PRLDEF and Winston & Strawn

Client 

Adriana Leon (Aguilar), Andres Leon, Elena Leon, Erika Gabriela Garcia-Leon, Carson Aguilar, Nelly Amaya, Elder Bonilla, Sonia Bonilla, Peggy De la Rosa-Delgado, Gonzalo Escalante, Anthony Jimenez, Bryan Jimenez, Christopher Jimenez, William Lazaro, Juan Jose Mijangos, Mario Patzan DeLeon, Victor Pineda-Morales, Yoni Revolorio, Diana Rodriguez, Tarcis Sapon-Diaz, Beatriz Velasquez and Dalia Velazquez

Case Description 

Aguilar, et al. v. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), et al. was a federal class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of 22 Latino men, women and children -- citizens, lawful permanent residents and others -- who in 2006 and 2007 had their homes raided by armed immigration agents in the pre-dawn hours, without court warrants or other legal justification. The lawsuit argued that ICE’s policy governing the conduct of officers during these raids was a violation of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments. The case named as defendants dozens of individual immigration agents and their supervisors, including former DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff and former ICE Director Julie Myers, and ICE itself.

The lead plaintiff, Adriana Aguilar, had been sleeping in the East Hampton home she shared with her parents, siblings and children – all of whom are U.S. citizens – when ICE agents pounded on the doors, demanded entry, and swept through home, pulling the covers off the bed she slept in and terrorizing her children. Family members asked to see a warrant; ICE did not show one.

"My family will never forget that night. My son, who was just four years old, was crying in fear of gunmen in his home at four in the morning. We asked them to show a warrant or any other authority they had for being inside our home. They ignored us." – Adriana Leon (Aguilar)

Another plaintiff, Beatriz Velasquez, was just 12 years old in 2007 when ICE agents surrounded her home in Long Island, pounded on the doors and windows, and burst in after falsely telling her that "someone was dying upstairs." Although ICE had deported the purported target of the raid on Beatriz's home two years before, ICE surrounded and raided the home again.

"That was the scariest day of my life. My little sister and I were terrified. They wouldn't explain to my mother what was going on, and they stormed through the house like an army." – Beatriz Velasquez

These and other raids in New York State followed a similar pattern: multiple teams of heavily armed agents would surround a home in the pre-dawn hours, and pound on the doors and windows, demanding or forcing entry. Once inside, ICE teams swept through the homes, corralled all those present in a central location and interrogated residents about their immigration status. ICE did not possess judicial warrants for these operations. Although purportedly seeking specific targets, ICE did little to no background research to determine whether targets actually occupied the homes, even raiding the home of a family of Latino citizens twice in an effort to find a man unknown to the family. Latinos, including U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and very young children, bore the brunt of these practices.

The raids were among hundreds conducted nationwide following a policy under which teams of immigration agents were ordered to increase their quota of arrests of people with outstanding deportation orders by 800 percent over the course of one year. The teams were permitted to count toward that quota so-called "collaterals"— undocumented immigrants ICE happened to encounter during raids.

From the outset of the litigation, ICE conceded lacking warrants or exigent circumstances to justify entering or searching homes, but claimed to have obtained consent to enter and search during these operations. Depositions and discovery, however, revealed not only that that ICE agents conducted so-called consensual home raids in a manner that violated decades of Supreme Court precedent requiring valid, duress-free but also targeted and arrested Latinos without any reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing.

The case was settled on April 4, 2013, requiring a new national policy governing the conduct of immigration agents during raids; $1 million in damages and fees; and immigration benefits for several of our clients. The new policy requires ICE agents to seek consent to enter or search a private residence in a language understood by the resident whenever feasible; to have Spanish-speaking officers available to seek such consent when the target is from a Spanish-speaking country; to seek consent to enter the outside areas of homes where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as a backyard; and to train agents in the law prohibiting so-called “protective sweeps” without an articulable suspicion of danger.

Case Timeline

April 4, 2013
Court endorses settlement, ICE ordered to pay plaintiffs $1 million, engage in policy and training reform
April 4, 2013
Court endorses settlement, ICE ordered to pay plaintiffs $1 million, engage in policy and training reform
April 4, 2013, the Court endorsed the parties' settlement providing for ICE to pay our 22 plaintiffs $1 million in damages and fees; to provide national policy and training memoranda regarding the manner in which ICE conducts home operations; and to provide immigration benefits for several plaintiffs.
July 13, 2012
Court denies Plaintiffs' Rule 23(f) petition for leave to appeal the denial of class certification
April 16, 2012
Judge denies Plaintiffs' Motion for class certification.
April 16, 2012
Judge denies Plaintiffs' Motion for class certification.
Judge Katherine Forrest, to whom the case had been transferred, denied Plaintiffs' motion for class certification.
September 22, 2011
Plaintiffs move again to certify a class
August 1, 2011
Judge denies Defendants' Motion to Dismiss
August 1, 2011
Judge denies Defendants' Motion to Dismiss
Judge Koeltl denied Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs’ claims for injunctive relief, holding that Plaintiffs had adequately alleged a policy, pattern and practice of Fourth and Fifth Amendment violations against Latinos in New York. Koeltl also dismissed Plaintiffs’ claims against Michael Chertoff and Julie Myers, but ruled that Plaintiffs’ Bivens claims against John Torres and Marcy Forman could go forward.
December 22, 2010
Plaintiffs move to certify a class
December 22, 2010
Plaintiffs move to certify a class
Plaintiffs move to certify a class of Latinos in the New York area who have been or could be victims to ICE’s ongoing policies and practices of violating the Fourth and Fifth Amendments.
May 19, 2010
Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiffs' claims for injunctive relief
May 19, 2010
Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiffs' claims for injunctive relief
March 29, 2010
Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiffs' claims against ICE employees
March 29, 2010
Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiffs' claims against ICE employees
In the wake of Iqbal v. Ashcroft, Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiffs’ Bivens claims against then-Secretary of DHS Michael Chertoff, then-Director of ICE Julie Myers, and the directors of the two branches of ICE responsible for planning and implementing home raids, John Torres and Marcy Forman.
December 21, 2009
Plaintiffs file Fourth Amended Complaint
December 21, 2009
Plaintiffs file Fourth Amended Complaint
Amended complaint adds Fifth Amendment claims and Bivens claims against high-ranking officials.
September 20, 2007
Plaintiffs file a class action suit against ICE, alleging widespread Fourth Amendment violations and seeking damage and injunctive relief.
September 20, 2007
Plaintiffs file a class action suit against ICE, alleging widespread Fourth Amendment violations and seeking damage and injunctive relief.