LAWSUIT CHALLENGES GOVERNMENTS WITHHOLDING OF DOCUMENTS CONCERNING LOCAL PRE-DAWN IMMIGRATION HOME RAIDS Concern over intimidating tactics, privacy violations January 28, 2008, NEWARK, NJ Seton Hall Law Schools Center for Social Justice (CSJ) and the Brazilian Voice filed suit today in federal court under the Freedom of Information Act (the FOIA) to compel the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to release documents regarding its practice of executing pre-dawn, warrantless raids of immigrants homes throughout the state of New Jersey. In January 2006, so-called Fugitive Operations Teams were each ordered by DHSs Office of Detention and Removals Operations to meet a quota to find and arrest 1,000 individuals per year who had outstanding deportation orders. Since the quota was instituted, there has been an escalating pattern of pre-dawn raids of immigrant homes in at least 15 New Jersey towns where the states four Fugitive Operations Teams have implemented the quota and DHSs Operation Return to Sender. In these raids, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents enter immigrant homes in the early hours of the morning, without search warrants, using intimidation andon occasionforce, to gather and question everyone in the home. The ICE agents then arrest persons who cannot immediately prove legal residence. According to ICE statistics, of the 2,079 fugitive arrests that ICE made in New Jersey last year, 87% of those arrested had no criminal record. Individuals subjected to the home raids include children and adults who are U.S. citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents. Many victims of the raids believe they were duped or coerced into opening their door to ICE agents, and still have no idea why their family was targeted. Often the individuals arrested in a raid have lived in the U.S. for years, raised U.S.-citizen children, worked hard, paid taxes and established community ties, said Bassina Farbenblum, a CSJ attorney. Scott Thompson, a lawyer at Lowenstein Sandler who is representing the CSJ, noted that because the ICE agents apparently dont get search warrants and no official records are available, there is currently no way to know whether they had any legitimate basis or lawful authority to enter a particular home. Todays lawsuit seeks to learn more about these ICE enforcement tactics by obtaining documentation of official policies and other records available to the public under the FOIA. On December 14, 2007, the CSJ and the Brazilian Voice, a regional Portuguese-language newspaper, filed a FOIA request seeking both records relating to the execution of more than 40 suspected raids, and to the policies and procedures that govern this ongoing practice. The raids detailed in the request occurred in Trenton, Freehold, Hightstown, Ewing, Princeton, West Windsor, Union City, Bridgeton, Paterson, Edison, Metuchen, Woodbridge, Penns Grove, Clifton, Atlantic City, Vineland, Englewood, Morristown, Lakewood, Emerson, Hillsdale, Bloomfield, Passaic, Irvington, Livingston, New Brunswick, New Egypt and Newark. In its only communication thus far regarding the FOIA submission, the DHS rejected a request for expedited processing. According to DHS, the raids are not an issue of particular public interest because a preliminary search of the internet does not indicate that there is substantial current news interest concerning this topic, and no other individuals have recently sought information on ICE operations. Plaintiffs in todays lawsuit are the original requesters, CSJ and The Brazilian Voice.