[JURIST] A panel convened by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) [union website] said Tuesday that US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) [official website] is violating the constitutional rights of US workers by conducting illegal searches and seizures in workplace raids to find illegal immigrants. The UFCW's National Commission on ICE Misconduct and Violations of Fourth Amendment Rights [press release] said that ICE agents are using arrest warrants for specific workers at a given work site as an excuse to detain and search the whole workforce, sometimes including US citizens. The panel plans to release a report detailing its findings and making recommendations designed to protect the Fourth Amendment rights of UFCW members. The Washington Post has more.
The UFCW hearings are a response to ongoing ICE actions initiated under Operation Return to Sender [DHS backgrounder], a controversial program to find and deport illegal immigrants, and are not the first allegations of Fourth Amendment violations by ICE. In November 2007, the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund [advocacy website] filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF; JURIST report] against ICE on behalf of several families who said that ICE agents violently raided their homes without first obtaining court warrants. The suit alleged that the raids were meant to target illegal immigrants but often focused on homes that do not house them and where ICE agents could not "reasonably expect" to find them. The suit further accused ICE of singling out Hispanics and said the raids violate constitutional protections against unreasonable searches.