DALLAS – The ACLU of Texas today filed a lawsuit against U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for failing to produce the search warrants used to raid a workplace in Allen, Texas in April 2019. According to a news release from ICE, agents arrested at least 280 employees while executing search warrants against a company and its staffing agencies. The ACLU of Texas first requested copies of the search warrants under the Freedom of Information Act on April 16, 2019.
The organization argues that ICE’s refusal to provide the records is unlawful and contrary to the public’s right to government transparency. Across the country, the ACLU has challenged unlawful searches and seizures by ICE agents during home and worksite raids.
“The Allen workplace raid ravaged an entire community,” said David Donatti, attorney for the ACLU of Texas. “The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees the right of everyone to be free from unjustified searches and detention. In Allen, armed agents entered a workplace and forced all employees, citizen and noncitizen alike, to stop working. ICE’s refusal to respond to our request for this critical information violates the people’s legal right to hold the government accountable.”
The Freedom of Information Act allows any individual to request access to federal agency records or information as long as that information doesn’t fall within nine specific exemptions. Under FOIA, all agencies are required to respond to requests within 20 days unless the agency writes to claim additional time.
The ACLU of Texas filed an administrative challenge to the agency’s refusal to provide information and the agency again refused to provide any documents. To date, ICE has not provided any adequate explanation for its decision. The ACLU of Texas is now exercising its right to challenge the agency’s actions in federal court, seeking judicial review of ICE’s claimed reasons for withholding the search warrants.