Lawyers for 10 Latino men filed a civil rights suit earlier this week against the federal government and the city of Danbury, Conn., accusing the city of harassing their clients because of their national origin. The legal or illegal status of the men was not revealed because they have immigration cases pending.
Nine of the men were arrested during a sting operation that targeted day laborers in the city. The other man was detained after a traffic stop. He has been deported to Ecuador.
The suit alleges that authorities violated the plaintiffs’ rights to due process, equal protection, free speech, free association, and freedom from unreasonable search and seizure.
They are being represented by professors at students at Yale Law School.
Plaintiffs argue that Danbury police have made civil immigration arrests, which they say local police have no authority to make. They also say that the city has discriminated against local Latinos by enforcing city ordinances, shutting down neighborhood volleyball games, and encouraging police to “harass” day laborers.
The lawsuit argues that “These policies aim ultimately to drive unwanted immigrants from Danbury and to deter future immigrants from making Danbury their home.”
Danbury Mayor Mark Broughton responded strongly to the charges. He said Danbury police provided logistical support to an ICE operation, complied with all laws, and would continue to assist federal authorities when called on.
“Frankly, we are not going to be bullied by Yale or anybody else as it relates to the equal application and the neutral applications of the laws of the city of Danbury,” Broughton told the Hartford Courant newspaper.
Broughton has called for federal legislation that secures the country’s borders, heightens enforcement, and reimburses cities for what they spend on services for immigrants. He is also in favor of a citizenship path for illegal aliens.
The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory and punitive damages. They are also want the court to declare the actions of the Danbury police and the feds to be unconstitutional.