An Atlanta judge made national news last week when he found that federal agents had committed “egregious” acts of racial profiling and that government lawyers had undertaken “willful misconduct” in their refusal to bring the agents to court.
The case centers on the arrest of Osvaldo Menese Chavez, who was taken into custody March 6, as he walked away from his apartment complex in Atlanta. Chavez was approached by ICE agents and placed him in deportation proceedings. According to an ICE spokesman, agents were in the vicinity targeting another individual, and they targeted Chavez because he “looked like the person they were looking for.”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported:
This account apparently troubled U.S. Immigration Judge Dan Pelletier, who said during an initial court hearing that he’d noticed agents had been using similar explanations to justify other detentions, Saul said.
In early April, Pelletier asked DHS to bring the officers to court so they could testify. A week later, however, DHS lawyers told the judge that wasn’t going to happen.
On April 17, Pelletier, after determining the officers’ testimony was essential, issued subpoenas for their appearance. But DHS lawyers again refused to bring the officers to court.
This thwarted Chavez’s ability to make his case, Pelletier said in his order issued Thursday. The judge then found the arresting officers’ conduct to be racial profiling and an “egregious violation” of the Fourth Amendment’s guarantee against unlawful searches and seizures.
The ruling was particularly notable because it came from a judge who has a consistent record of for siding with the government with regards to deportation proceedings. As of this post Chavez remains in immigration detention.