U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers Reuters / Norsk Telegrambyra

A federal judge ordered Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) this week to stop using the so-called 'Knock and Talk' tactics, a method for arresting immigrants in which field agents enter a property without a judicial warrant or consent with the purpose of arresting undocumented immigrants.

U.S. District Judge Otis Wright II said the practice amounts to "knock-and-arrest" and violates Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. These protections, he noted, include the curtilage around people's homes, such as yards and porches that are part of the property. By entering this curtilage armed with only an administrative arrest warrant — not a judicial one — immigration officers are violating these protections.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) explained that Judge Wright's decision addresses a lawsuit filed in 2020 on behalf of immigrant Osny Sorto Vásquez Kidd, the organizations Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice (ICIJ) and the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA).

Vásquez Kidd's home was entered by ICE agents posing as police officers searching for a dangerous criminal. Once inside the residence and unable to find the individual, they had Vásquez Kidd's mother call him and convinced him to meet with them. At the time of his attempted arrest, Vásquez Kidd was protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

As explained by Courthouse News Service, among the other examples cited by Wright in his ruling was the arrest of Diana Rodriguez in Anaheim on Feb. 17, 2017, in which ICE officers approached the back entrance of her home at 8:30 am, which was only accessible through the backyard. "After Rodriguez's girlfriend answered the door, an officer asked Rodriguez to step outside, answer some questions and provide the officers with identification. When Rodriguez did so, they took her into custody."

Upon the ruling, Lizbeth Abeln, interim director at the Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice wrote in a press release that "it is a basic human right for immigrants to feel safe in their own homes and live without fear" adding that "this won't undo the years of harm done by ICE, but it is a good first step towards justice."

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