Important victory for immigrants and for everyone else

'The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated'

Last week, federal Judge Otis D. Wright II declared inconstitutional the practice of the Immigration and Customs Control Service (ICE) known as “Knock and Talks” – hitting the door and chatting – for which the Agents enter with false identity to the patio or porch of a house where immigrants live with claiming they want to speak when their real purpose is to make an arrest.

Judge Wright was appointed in 2006 by then President George W. Bush and serves in the Central District of California.

Knock and Talks is illegal without a court order

The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution establishes that: “‘The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated’.”

Agents almost never provided a court order. Instead, they show a general administrative arrest warrant, inadequate for the case.

Knock and Talks represents at least 27% of ICE residential arrests.

The decision pertains to Kidd V Mayorkas case, a collective claim initiated in April 2020 by the Inland Coalition of Justice for Immigrants (ICIJ), the Coalition for Human Immigrants Rights (Chirla) and an individual, Osny Sorto-Vásquez Kidd. They were represented pro bono by Munger, Tolles & Olson.

Kidd had been arrested in 2018 and detained in the ICE processing field in Adelanto for more than two months.

The decision  is a great victory for the privacy of families and against the illegal and deceptive practices that migratory agents have been using for years. It is especially frustrating that they identify falsely as police and that attack a family home as if they were going to war.

The decision supports a basic human right so that immigrants feel safe in their own homes and live without constant fear.

A victory that would extend to the whole country

At the moment, the order includes only the area covered by the ICE office in Los Angeles, which includes the Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. The victory for immigrants and civil rights in general is not yet complete, since in general, the opinions of the district courts are not binding to others or the appeals court. Defenders can also appeal. However, it is possible to expect soon a change in all of ICE jurisdictions nationwide.

In common agreement between the plaintiffs and the defense, the Court refrained from deciding on this occasion the issue of the false identification as police officers by the migratory agents.

In addition, instead of blocking the practice completely, the judge only prevented ICE from using it in this particular context. He stated that there will be a complete ruling soon.

The judge clarified that “Knock and Talks” is constitutional when it is accompanied by a court order and with the sole purpose of “speaking.” But the practice made thousands of times for ICE – usually in the early hours of the morning – is unconstitutional.

Judge Wright’s decision will not erase decades of suffering caused by this unfair practice. But it is an important step towards recognition of the rights immigrants and the population at large.


  • Founder and co-editor of Latino Los Angeles. Editor Emeritus of La Opinion, former Editor-in-Chief. Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, is a journalist, columnist, blogger, poet, novelist, and short story writer. Was the editorial director of Huffington Post Voces. Editor-in-chief of the weekly Tiempo in Israel. Is the father of three grown children and lives with Celia and with Rosie, Almendra and Yinyit in Los Angeles.

    View all posts
Exit mobile version