Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Yale Law Clinic Victorious: RESIDENTS TARGETED IN 2007 NEW HAVEN IMMIGRATION RAID REACH LANDMARK SETTLEMENT WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
We recently heard about the law enforcement problems in East Haven, Connecticut. Now, let's here the latest from neighboring New Havem.
Eleven New Haven residents whose homes were illegally raided by immigration agents almost five years ago have reached a settlement of a civil rights lawsuit against top U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials, local agents, and the U.S. government.
The plaintiffs and their counsel will announce the settlement at a press conference on Wednesday, February 15, 2012 at 10:30 AM at the Wilson Branch Library in New Haven, Connecticut.
The eleven men alleged that in the early morning hours of June 6, 2007, approximately 20 ICE agents together with other federal, state, and local officers spread out across the predominantly Latino neighborhood of Fair Haven, invaded homes without warrants or consent, and illegally seized and arrested the men. Agents drew their weapons, pushed through the doors of residents’ homes, banged on bedroom doors, forced several men out of bed, and frightened young children present in some of the homes. The raids came just two days after the Board of Aldermen had approved Mayor DeStefano’s proposal for an Elm City Resident Card program to offer identification cards to all New Haven residents without regard to immigration status.
The plaintiffs alleged that the raids were carried out in retaliation for the City’s municipal identification program and other integrationist measures, and that they were targeted solely on the basis of their Latino appearance. To settle the claims in Diaz-Bernal et al. v. Myers et al., No. 3:09-cv-1734-SRU (D. Conn. filed Oct. 28, 2009), the federal government will pay $350,000 and has offered plaintiffs the choice of either immigration relief known as deferred action or termination of pending deportation proceedings.
The agreement appears to be the largest monetary settlement ever paid by the United States in a suit over residential immigration raids, and the first to include both compensation and immigration relief. “I remember everything that happened to me that morning as if it were yesterday,” Edinson Yangua-Calva, one of the plaintiffs, stated.
“There are things I haven’t been able to get over, it is something that stays with you forever,” he explained. “This settlement means a lot to me,” stated Cristobal Serrano-Mendez, another plaintiff.
“Five years of pressure on the government has led to this agreement, and I think that the government knows it did something wrong.” Amilcar Soto Velasquez, another plaintiff, sees the settlement as an opportunity to tell other victims of raids and abuse that they should not become disillusioned. “They should keep fighting,” he stated.
The eleven Plaintiffs, Eduardo Diaz-Bernal, Florente Baranda-Barreto, Edilberto Cedeño-Trujillo, Washington Colala-Peñarreta, Julio Sergio Paredes-Mendez, Cristobal Serrano-Mendez, Jose Solano-Yangua, Silvino Trujillo-Mirafuentes, Gerardo Trujillo-Morellano, Amilcar Soto Velasquez and Edinson Yangua-Calva, were represented by law students and attorneys at the Worker & Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic of the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization at Yale Law School and pro bono counsel from Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP of New York.