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Friday, April 12, 2024 | Back issues
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Info Sought on Surveillance Of Day Laborers

NEW ORLEANS (CN) - A man who faces deportation based on information the Border Patrol got through worker raids demands documents about the raids. He says the documents will shed light on federal agents' "covert surveillance and raids on day labor corners in New Orleans targeting reconstruction workers."

It is Joaquin Navarro Hernandez's second request for documentation; the defendant U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency, a creature of the Department of Homeland Security, blew off his first request, which he filed in July.

Navarro is a "reconstruction worker" and resident of New Orleans, according to the complaint.

U.S. labor contractors and subcontractors brought in thousands of such workers after Hurricane Katrina, with and without papers.

Navarro was arrested on Jan. 12 this year, "during a community raid on a day labor corner by U.S. Customs and Border Protection," the complaint states.

It continues: "Customs and Border Protection seized and arrested plaintiff without reasonable suspicion or probable cause and with excessive force.

"In its arrest document, U.S. Customs and Border Protection provided a blatantly inaccurate account of plaintiff's arrest.

"All of the government's purported evidence against plaintiff in his deportation proceedings consists of information obtained during his unlawful January 12, 2010 arrest.

"In his deportation proceedings, plaintiff has moved to suppress evidence obtained as a result of his unlawful arrest, which constituted an 'egregious' violation of his Fourth Amendment rights and is part of a 'widespread' pattern of such violations."

Navarro and his attorneys say the "U.S. Customs and Border Protection regularly engages in covert surveillance and community raids on day labor corners in New Orleans targeting reconstruction workers."

They say the raids are unconstitutional, and the refusal to release documents about the raids is illegal.

"The release of these documents is essential to facilitate much-needed community monitoring and oversight of actions by U.S. Customs and Border Protection," the complaint states.

"U.S. Customs and Border Protection's refusal to provide these documents is one in the latest in a series of actions that violate the constitutional and civil rights of New Orleans' community members as well as the Department of Homeland Security's statutes, regulations, and stated public policies.

"U.S. Customs and Border Protection's covert raids targeting reconstruction workers and residents of New Orleans on day laborer corners violate the constitutional and civil rights of New Orleans residents and the regulations governing the conduct of U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents. These covert raids also violate the Obama Administration's stated policy on immigration enforcement, which purports to 'focus on smart and effective immigration enforcement ... prioritizing the identification and removal of criminal aliens who pose a threat to public safety.' [Ellipsis in complaint.] Upon information and belief, U.S. Customs and Border Protection continues to conduct these raids.

"Information on U.S. Customs and Border Protection's community raids is also necessary to protect Mr. Joaquin Navarro Hernandez's fundamental right to defend himself against the immigration consequences of these raids, which violated his Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Evidence obtained through 'egregious' or 'widespread'" violations of the Constitution by law enforcement are inadmissible in deportation proceedings in immigration court. See I.N.S. v. Lopez -Mendoza, 486 U.S. 1032, 1050 (1984). ...

"U.S. Customs and Border Protection refuses to turn over the requested documents relating to its covert surveillance and raids on day labor corners in New Orleans targeting reconstruction workers despite ongoing prejudice to the community and Mr. Navarro Hernandez's fundamental rights."

Navarro seeks declaratory judgment that the "U.S. Customs and Border Protection actions violated plaintiff's fundamental rights and the New Orleans' community's right to provide needed monitoring and oversight of US Customs and Border Protection." He asks the judge to order the Border Patrol to deliver the records within 10 days.

He is represented by Jennifer Rosenbaum with the New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice.

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