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Connecticut Immigration Bust Settled

February 16, 2012

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Eleven men arrested by immigration authorities in New Haven in 2007 have settled their lawsuit against officials from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The settlement was announced at a news conference Wednesday.

The men were represented by student interns at Yale Law School's Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic. Intern Trudy Rebert explained the significance of the deal.

"The agreement is among the largest monetary settlements ever paid by the United States over ICE home raids and the first to include both compensation and immigration relief."

The men will split $350,000 and deportation proceedings against them have been canceled. ICE released a statement declaring that the settlement is not intended as an admission of liability on the part of the U.S. government, but was made to avoid the additional time and expense of further litigation.

One of the plaintiffs, Washington Colala, explains why they decided to fight the charges, after officers conducted early morning raids without warrants.

"They didn't respect our rights; they didn't respect our privacy; they didn't respect the tears of our children. We were arrested and taken to a jail in Hartford."

Speakers noted that more immigrants have been deported under the Obama administration than under any previous one, including tens of thousands who were picked up despite not having a criminal record, which was supposed to be the target population.

Yale law professor Michael Wishnie supervised the student interns.

"What's significant here today is that these men stood up and resisted that, and only through that resistance have they succeeded in ending those cases, but there are tens of thousands of others that continue to grind through the system even though they fit no priorities."

A total of 29 people were arrested that day, two of whom were deported. Advocates hope the settlement will help pave the way for a resolution in the cases of several others.

Melinda Tuhus, Public News Service - CT