Brazilian Newspaper Sues US Government Over “Return to Sender” Home Raids

Brazilian weekly newspaper Brazilian Voice New Jersey-based Brazilian newspaper Brazilian Voice and the Seton Hall Law School's Center for Social Justice (CSJ) filed suit, this Monday, January 28, in US federal court under the Freedom of Information Act (the FOIA) to compel the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to release documents regarding its practice of executing pre-dawn, warrantless raids of immigrants' homes throughout the state of New Jersey.

In January 2006, so-called Fugitive Operations Teams were each ordered by DHS's Office of Detention and Removals Operations to meet a quota to find and arrest 1,000 individuals per year who had outstanding deportation orders.

Since the quota was instituted, there has been an escalating pattern of pre-dawn raids of immigrant homes in at least 15 New Jersey towns where the state's four Fugitive Operations Teams have implemented the quota and DHS's "Operation Return to Sender."

In these raids, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents enter immigrant homes in the early hours of the morning, without search warrants, using intimidation and-on occasion-force, to gather and question everyone in the home. The ICE agents then arrest persons who cannot immediately prove legal residence.

According to ICE statistics, of the 2,079 "fugitive" arrests that ICE made in New Jersey last year, 87% of those arrested had no criminal record. Individuals subjected to the home raids include children and adults who are U.S. citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents.

"Many victims of the raids believe they were duped or coerced into opening their door to ICE agents, and still have no idea why their family was targeted. Often the individuals arrested in a raid have lived in the U.S. for years, raised U.S.-citizen children, worked hard, paid taxes and established community ties," said Bassina Farbenblum, a CSJ attorney.

Scott Thompson, a lawyer at Lowenstein Sandler who is representing the CSJ, noted that "because the ICE agents apparently don't get search warrants and no official records are available, there is currently no way to know whether they had any legitimate basis or lawful authority to enter a particular home."

Today's lawsuit seeks to learn more about these ICE enforcement tactics by obtaining documentation of official policies and other records available to the public under the FOIA.

On December 14, 2007, the CSJ and the Brazilian Voice, a regional Portuguese-language newspaper, filed a FOIA request seeking both records relating to the execution of more than 40 suspected raids, and to the policies and procedures that govern this ongoing practice.

The raids detailed in the request occurred in Trenton, Freehold, Hightstown, Ewing, Princeton, West Windsor, Union City, Bridgeton, Paterson, Edison, Metuchen, Woodbridge, Penn's Grove, Clifton, Atlantic City, Vineland, Englewood, Morristown, Lakewood, Emerson, Hillsdale, Bloomfield, Passaic, Irvington, Livingston, New Brunswick, New Egypt and Newark.

In its only communication thus far regarding the FOIA submission, the DHS rejected a request for "expedited processing." According to DHS, the raids are not an issue of particular public interest because "a preliminary search of the Internet does not indicate that there is substantial current news interest concerning this topic," and no other individuals have recently sought information on ICE operations.

Seton Hall University School of Law, New Jersey's only private law school, and a leading law school in the New York metropolitan area, is dedicated to preparing students for the practice of law through excellence in scholarship and teaching with a strong focus on clinical education.

The Center for Social Justice, a core of Seton Hall Law School's Catholic mission, provides clinical education and volunteer opportunities to students and engages in various forms of advocacy, scholarship and direct legal services in an effort to secure equality, civil rights and legal protection for individuals and communities in need.

Founded in 1988, the Brazilian Voice is the largest circulated publication serving Brazilians living on the East coast of the U.S. Published weekly in Portuguese, the Brazilian Voice reaches residents via more than 1,000 distribution points in the states of New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Delaware. The Brazilian Voice is headquartered in Newark, NJ.


  • Show Comments (12)

  • Dominick

    The Rich class want their cheap illegal labor
    The Rich class want their cheap, illegal labor and mask it behind behind altruistic motives. Coupled with the hard fact that illegals are fighting for their life when staying in the US and you probably have an insurmountable force. It just is not enough to be on the side of the law when powerful forces want what they want. Sad but true, illegals are better off in constant fear of being deported than being a citizen in their own country. What illegals don’t understand, and even more don’t care to see, is that they came to the USA because of its RULE OF LAW. The same law they are trampling over. I wish my government could process more people to become citizens before they come here illegally, but than who would be cheap labor for the Rich?

  • João da Silva

    [quote]I.C.E.,, coming to your neighborhood soon[/quote]

    If they are coming to my neighborhood, advise them to bring in plenty of “Coors”. We can easily provide enough cold storage space.

  • eagle

    I.C.E.,, coming to your neighborhood soon
    The majority of americans celebrate the operation of “Return To Sender”,,, which deports Illegal aliens to their home country…….

  • João da Silva


    In spite of the efforts of Franco and Salazar to save good ole Europe. Don’t you remember the movie “Casablanca”?


    Certainly it is going to be very very soon. The ghosts of those about mentioned gentlemen are working feverishly to turn Brazil into ancient Europe.

    Forrest, I think you missed the comments made by Lloyd Cata, who disappeared. Quite an interesting blogger.

  • forrest allen brown

    REMEMBER AS YOU READ — IT WAS IN A SPANISH PAPER Date: Tue, 22 May 2007 14:30:20 -0500

    ALL EUROPEAN LIFE DIED IN AUSCHWITZ By Sebastian Vilar Rodrigez(*)

    I walked down the street in Barcelona, and suddenly discovered a terrible truth – Europe died in Auschwitz . We killed six million Jews and replaced them with 20 million Muslims. In Auschwitz we burned a culture, thought, creativity, talent. We destroyed the chosen people, truly chosen, because they produced great and wonderful people who changed the world.

    The contribution of this people is felt in all areas of life: science, art, international trade, and above all, as the conscience of the world. These are the people we burned.

    And under the pretense of tolerance, and because we wanted to prove to ourselves that we were cured of the disease of racism, we opened our gates to 20 million Muslims, who brought us stupidity and ignorance, religious extremism and lack of tolerance, crime and poverty, due to an unwillingness to work and support their families with pride.

    They have blown up our trains and turned our beautiful Spanish cities into the third world, drowning in filth and crime

    Shut up in the apartments they receive free from the government, they plan the murder and destruction of their naive hosts.

    And thus, in our misery, we have exchanged culture for fanatical hatred, creative skill for destructive skill, intelligence for backwardness and superstition

    We have exchanged the pursuit of peace of the Jews of Europe and their talent for hoping for a better future for their children, their determined clinging to life because life is holy, for those who pursue death, for people consumed by the desire for death for themselves and others, for our children and theirs.

    What a terrible mistake was made by miserable Europe .

  • forrest allen brown

    son inlaw is a bordor patrol officer , he has been shot at 36 times this year from afar in mexico .
    18 agents have been killed this year alone , one just this month and his killer went back to mexico who will not send him back
    as the death pentilty will keep him from standing trail in the US for his crime , also the max you can go to jail for in mexico is 15 years but like brasi you can buy your way out after the press goes away .

    12 of the people picked up sence christmass have had many court hearings for status in the USA but never attend them just move and change there name , and continu selling drugs and doing petty crimes ,

    Did you know some 3200 ileagles in the prison in the US have filed for citisenship as they feel sence they are in jail they should be admmited as citisens .

    one family that had there house gone into had 11 ieleags living in there basement , in substand conditions plus charging them
    rent and working fro them at below minium wage ,

    another 2 houses were found to contain drugs and guns , along with equipment for making fals papers .

    and yet another was a frount for child porn brougth in from brasil and other SA countries .

    look at all the other countries of the world and how they handle this meniss the there sovrinty ,
    lot bigger guns and no day in court ,
    this is the only country where you are not a resident , or a citisen , but get the full benffit of the country .

    So as in there country live by our ruels or leave before you get caught .

    could you picture a half a million ielagle people from the US holding a march in brasil demanding there socical rights .
    carring flags and denouncing the way the brasilian goverment was treating them . how far would they get befor they were shot or water cannond to prision and moved to the closet border and set off to make there own way back to the US .

    at leat the US puts them on a plane and send them back to brasil , where they go to the US counsl and demand money to get back to there home state.

    again press in the US printing only the bad that sells

    and as for as respect for law not one brasilian respects the police in there home country , so why would you think they would here

  • Don

    SWAT tactics really necessary?
    I believe illegal immigrants should be deported. I agree that the immigration policy of the US is broken. However, I take great exception to the methods used. Warrantless raids are not what the USA is supposed to stand for. We are better than that. Get it? Respect for the law means respect for due process; they are one and the same.

  • Simpleton

    Do we have to wait for them to pass the bar before eliminating them?

  • Ric

    This Appears to be
    A secondary, sour grapes suit after the newspaper and the ACLU sued the City of Newark following the allegation that the editor refused to surrender some photos of a dead person discovered by newspaper personnel

    Except for the illegals themselves, the people in the Ironbound and other districts are pretty upset. I donÀ‚´t know about the suit against the city, but the suit discribed above is felt to have no merit and will only hasten the politicians finally getting tough or getting tossed. Keep it up, Obama.

  • ch,c,

    Illegals should be……
    …..sent back home… containers…..whereverr they came from !
    Since the USA imports more goods than they export……no doubt that thousands of empty containers are available for the return trip !!!!

  • eagle

    Bye,, Bye……..and don,t come back !!!!
    they were deported because they entered the u.s.a. illegally , or overstayed their tourist visas……period…..Common crimes of illegals are ,identity theft,tax evasion,money laundering,illegal international money transfer,public assistance fraud,driving unlicensed,fraudelent documents etc.,etc…..

  • forrest allen brown

    ask your self
    would this happen in brasil ?
    yes it does quite often even to people with papers

    so why all the poor pitiful me stuff

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