Pre-dawn raid involved 17 homes in 2008
A lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court alleges that Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents violated the rights of two Maryland families during a 2008 raid in Annapolis.
One woman claims she was sexually assaulted during the raid by a male ICE agent who frisked her during the pre-dawn raid as she wore small pajama shorts with no pockets and a T-shirt. The lawsuit alleges that the agent cupped his hands over her breasts and grabbed her genitalia.
In a hearing on the woman’s immigration status, U.S. Immigration Judge Phillip T. Williams ruled Aug. 5, 2010, that the actions by the ICE agent amounted to “inappropriate sexual contact.”
“The inappropriate touching of [the woman] by the male ICE agent, while she was in her bedroom clothing, is offensive and shocking to the conscience of any reasonable person,” Williams wrote in his decision.
The raid occurred June 30, 2008, as ICE agents with local police raided 17 homes without search warrants as part of an investigation of an Annapolis painting company suspected by ICE of hiring illegal immigrants, according to the lawsuit.
Some of the people were shackled and held for weeks without being told why they were being detained or charged, according to the lawsuit.
The four people who filed the lawsuit — a married couple, and two sisters who lived in a rented room in another home — seek more than $1 million in damages and a change in the way ICE is allowed to conduct raids.
ICE spokesman Ross Feinstein said the agency does not comment on pending litigation.
The federal lawsuit took time to file because administrative procedures had to be followed by the plaintiffs first, said one of the plaintiff’s attorneys, Enid Gonzalez Aleman of Casa of Maryland, an advocacy group.
During the raid, Pablo Alvarado, a legal permanent resident, and his wife, Ingrid Munoz, a U.S. citizen, along with their 6-year-old son, were asleep in their Annapolis home when they were awakened by pounding on their front door and shouts for them to come out. The couple saw armed men wearing black clothing at the door, with one shouting, “Come outside or we’re coming in,” according to the lawsuit.
Out of fear, Alvarado stood aside, and the agents rushed into the house, according to the lawsuit.
At no time did the agents display badges, police identification or a warrant, according to the lawsuit. The agents told them they were at the house to look for “illegals” but refused to answer questions about why they were at their home or to identify themselves, the lawsuit says.
In a separate raid where the alleged sexual assault occurred, the two sisters were in a rented bedroom in a house when the agents rushed in without a warrant, according to the lawsuit.
The male agent frisked the woman even though a female agent was present. He also stayed in their bedroom as the female agent allowed them to get dressed, the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit alleges unlawful search and seizure, trespass, false imprisonment, unreasonable use of excessive force and sexual assault, among other offenses.