Federal judge issues blow to ICE over 'knock and talks' with illegal immigrants

"This order should significantly curtail ICE’s unconstitutional home arrest practices," an ACLU attorney said.

Published: May 22, 2024 10:31am

A California-based federal judge ruled that the way Immigration and Customs Enforcement executes "knock and talks" – by walking up to the door of a home to speak with an occupant and carry out civil immigration arrests – is unconstitutional.

California Central District Judge Otis D. Wright II, an appointee of President George W. Bush, ruled last week that the practice of entering the area around a home for the purpose of arresting an occupant without a specific warrant or express consent through "knock and talks" violates the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. 

The judge also said that the ICE officers were using "knock and talks" for civil immigration arrests with administrative warrants, but unlike criminal warrants, administrative warrants are "insufficient to enter the constitutionally protected areas of a home."

After Wright's ruling, ACLU attorney Stephanie Padilla said: "Everyone should feel safe in their own home, regardless of immigration status. Because ICE never has judicial warrants, they primarily rely on 'knock and talks' to conduct home arrests. This order should significantly curtail ICE’s unconstitutional home arrest practices."

Matthew J. O’Brien, Immigration Reform Law Institute research director and former immigration judge, said that Wright incorrectly applied criminal procedure.

"It’s absurd to say that ICE can’t engage in investigative procedures," he said, according to The Washington Times.

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