A settlement reached with U.S. citizens and residents and undocumented immigrants resulting from a 2010 raid in Nashville, Tennessee, includes a seven-year deportation deferral for the undocumented plaintiffs — the longest such deportation protection of which their lawyers are aware.
The settlement was reached in a case brought against U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Metropolitan Nashville Police Department by a group of 14 people who said their constitutional rights were violated when they were caught up in the warrantless raid. The 14 people also won $310,000 as part of the settlement, under which the two governmental entities made no admission of wrongdoing. Eight of the plaintiffs received seven-year deferred action protections as part of the settlement.
The case, filed by the ACLU and two law firms on behalf of residents of a Nashville, Tennessee apartment complex, was dismissed Friday and the settlement announced Monday.
Andre Segura, an attorney with the ACLU, believes the seven-year deferred action status some of the apartment residents received was the longest achieved through a settlement. Before the ACLU took on the case about a year after the raid, however, three other plaintiffs were deported — meaning that, while they could fight their case from abroad, they did not qualify for the deferral.
Segura said it was important to try and stop warrantless raids that appear to target people of color. Many of the residents were Latino, he said.
“It was important for us to send a message to law enforcement that this cannot occur,” Segura said.
ICE did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Plaintiffs in the case said ICE agents, the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department, and private security guards entered the Clairmont apartment complex one evening without a warrant. The officers and agents searched through the homes, pointed guns at the residents, and physically and verbally abused the people who lived there, according to the complaint.
According to the complaint, apartment residents said the company that owned the building colluded with federal and local authorities to get rid of the plaintiffs after acquiring the building through bankruptcy proceedings.
Segura said the plaintiffs came to a separate settlement with the apartment owners and management earlier this year, but the terms of the agreement were not public.
Some 20 people were arrested and taken into custody during the raid, said Inga Sarda-Sorensen, a spokeswoman for the ACLU. Several others were detained, but weren't taken into custody.
The civil rights organization ultimately represented 14 plaintiffs and none of the people who were arrested were charged criminally, Sarda-Sorensen said.
Segura said ICE agents and local police were looking for gang members during the raid, but only had the names of two people and no suspicions of any ongoing activity.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs argued that the raids violated their client's Fourth Amendment rights, among others, by conducting a warrantless raid inside their homes and that the Constitution’s protections apply to both citizens and non-citizens alike. Without a judicially authorized warrant, lawyers said, ICE agents must have the voluntary and knowing consent of someone before entering their home.
The ACLU's Immigrants’ Rights Project, ACLU of Tennessee, and firms of Ozment Law and Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym, Ltd. filed the lawsuit.
Adolfo Flores is a national security correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles. He focuses on immigration.
Contact Adolfo Flores at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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