MANHATTAN (CN) – The government should not face a sweeping injunction to protect all Latino New Yorkers from illegal immigration raids because a couple of dozen claim to have been victimized by the practice five years ago, a federal judge ruled.
The call for an injunction stems from a lawsuit filed in 2007 by 24 individuals of Latino background. They say they were targeted within eight months of each other for pre-dawn raids by armed agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Though the government has said “Operation Return to Sender” aimed to target fugitives, the plaintiffs claim that the “unstated goal of these raids” is a constitutional loophole for ICE agents to meet their quotas.
They say none of the agents had a warrant or factored immigration status when they chose targets for the raids.
Some agents allegedly gained entry by pretending there was an emergency in the house, while others rammed through doors to break into the homes. Some of the plaintiffs swept up in these raids say they were subjected to psychological and physical abuse in illegal detention.
All but three of the plaintiffs from the 2007 lawsuit sought to certify a class for injunctive relief, which would protect for Latino New Yorkers, a group totaling some two million people..
Though U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest found Monday that there is much evidence behind the individual claims, she declined to certify a class for the injunction.
“Based on the facts in the record on this motion (and the record on this motion is voluminous), there can be little argument that there are serious common questions regarding whether the 2007 raids were performed in a constitutionally and legally appropriate manner,” her order states.
“The fact that the Latinos who were subject to raids in 2007 share common questions does not, however, automatically confer on Latinos in the New York area in 2012 and beyond the same potential commonality.”
Forrest noted that the issue does not relate to class certification for damages claims.
The Supreme Court’s recent decision to disband a class of workers suing Wal-Mart for discrimination informed Forrest’s holding.
Though the plaintiffs submitted 120 affidavits attesting to widespread ICE raids of Latino homes, Forrest said they could not prove that Latino New Yorkers were at risk generally.
“As defendants point out in their papers in opposition to this motion, the proposed class here consists of approximately two million Latinos,” Forrest wrote. “This results in one anecdotal incident for every 250,000 potential class members. That falls far short of the standard set by the Supreme Court.”
Lawyers for the plaintiffs could not immediately be reached for comment.