DALLAS (CN) – The American Civil Liberties Union sued federal immigration officials Wednesday, demanding the search warrants for a raid last year at a Dallas-area electronics repair company that netted over 280 arrests.
The ACLU of Texas sued U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Houston federal court claiming violations of the Freedom of Information Act. It seeks the search warrants agents relied on when they raided CVE Technology Group in Allen and the company’s staffing agencies this past April. ICE detained several hundred employees suspected of being in the country illegally.
While the ACLU says it requested copies of the search warrants within days of the raid, its requests have been refused because ICE claims an exemption “that production of already executed search warrants might somehow interfere with ongoing law enforcement investigations.”
The law requires federal agencies to respond to such requests within 20 days unless it notifies of the need for more time.
“Defendants provided no information to justify claiming the exemption, let alone to justify categorical withholding pursuant to it,” the eight-page complaint states. “Further explanation is required … defendants have not articulated how producing these executed warrants to the public could possibly interfere with ongoing law enforcement investigation.”
ACLU attorney David Donatti said the raid “ravaged an entire community” and that the Fourth Amendment frees everyone from being subjected to unjustified searches and detention.
“In Allen, armed agents entered a workplace and forced all employees, citizen and noncitizen alike, to stop working,” he said in a statement. “ICE’s refusal to respond to our request for this critical information violates the people’s legal right to hold the government accountable.”
ICE spokeswoman Leticia Zamarripa declined to comment on the lawsuit Thursday, citing the agency’s policy of not commenting on ongoing litigation.
Katrina W. Berger, ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations Dallas Special Agent in Charge, said at the time of the raids that businesses who knowingly hiring illegal immigrants “take jobs away from U.S. citizens and legal residents, and they create an atmosphere poised for exploiting their illegal workforce.”
ICE said it received multiple tips about the company hiring illegal aliens and began auditing its I-9 forms three months before the raid.