Customs Settles Lawsuit|Over Apartment Raid

     NASHVILLE (CN) – A federal immigration agency and local police agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by residents of an apartment complex that was allegedly raided without legal justification.
     U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents knocked down a door and shattered a window of a two-bedroom Nashville apartment without a warrant or consent on Oct. 20, 2010, according to an ACLU webpage dedicated to the case. The apartment complex was home to mostly Latino residents, the ACLU claims.
     ICE agents and Metropolitan Nashville Police Department officers, in full SWAT gear, allegedly searched homes illegally while shouting racial slurs and holding guns to some residents’ heads.
     A 2011 lawsuit claimed that some apartment occupants were detained without reasonable suspicious or probable cause, and no criminal charges were filed as a result of the raid. It accused ICE agents and local police of civil rights violations and discriminatory conduct.
     The suit was brought by the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, the ACLU of Tennessee and two law firms on behalf of 15 residents of the apartment complex who were subjected to the raid. Some of the plaintiffs are U.S. citizens, including a child allegedly detained and interrogated while playing soccer, according to the ACLU.
     U.S. District Judge Todd Campbell denied a motion to dismiss filed by federal agents and officers last year, ruling that facts about the raid and officers’ conduct were disputed. But he granted the parties’ voluntary dismissal motion on Friday, ending a four-year legal battle.
     The ACLU announced the settlement on Monday, in which ICE and Nashville police reportedly agreed to pay $310,000 to settle all claims. ACLU attorney Andre Segura said the settlement sends a message that the constitution requires that all people be treated fairly.
     “Agents cannot trample the constitution because of their stereotypes and assumptions about someone’s immigration status,” Segura said.
     One of the plaintiffs, Marvin Raxcaco, said he hopes an end to the case will deter future raids like the one he experienced.
     “A person should never have to go through what we did,” Raxcaco said in a statement. “It was terrifying, and hopefully this settlement will stop this from happening to others in the future.”
     However, Bryan Cox, spokesman for ICE and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, told WSMV that the federal agency does not admit to any fault in the raid.
     “While ICE agreed to settle this case, the agency in no way admitted any wrongdoing,” Cox said. “ICE recognizes that enforcing our nation’s immigration laws is a weighty responsibility and we endeavor to do so judiciously, fairly and appropriately.”

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