Blog Archive

Friday, December 3, 2010

ICE to deport one from the 2007 Fair Haven raids

By Betsy Yagla
New Haven Advocate
December 01, 2010

One of the “New Haven 30” who were swept up in the controversial 2007 Fair Haven immigration raids is facing imminent deportation.

ICE (Immigration, Custom and Enforcement) is attempting to deport Washington Colala by Monday, Dec. 6. He’s already bought his plane ticket.

That’s a problem, says Yale Law student Mark Padulla, because Colala is one of 11 plaintiffs who’ve filed suit against ICE claiming that the feds violated their civil rights in the raids.

“They’re trying to rush him while his claims are still pending,” says Padulla. In addition to his own claims, Colala was a witness for his roommate. And a federal judge deemed Colala’s witness testimony to be credible; the judge dismissed the immigration charges against Colala’s roommate.

Colala has no criminal history, but does have two U.S.-born children, including a 10-year-old daughter who lives in the area.

Colala is from Ecuador and has been working in the U.S. for 15 years. He’s been fighting his deportation in immigration court. He lost the case and appealed to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. On Tuesday, the second circuit denied his appeal.

The raids happened the day after New Haven aldermen voted to move forward with the city’s innovative residency card, an ID program available to all city residents regardless of citizenship status. It’s widely believed that the immigration raids happened in direct response to the program.

Local immigrant rights groups have been fighting on behalf of the men and as part of a records request found emails between the federal Justice Department and the U.S. Attorney’s office (located next to City Hall) showing that the USAO wanted to send a message to New Haven.

For its part, ICE has said that the raids were pre-planned and had nothing to do with the ID card program.

Of the 30 picked up in the raids, 11 have filed a civil rights case against ICE, claiming, for instance, that agents did not identify themselves and forced their way into homes in the wee hours of the morning on June 7, 2007.

Colala is the only one of the 11 facing deportation. The other 10 raised constitutional issues in their immigration cases and five won because a judge concluded that ICE agents committed Fourth Amendment violations during the raids. The remaining five lost and are appealing those decisions.

If Colala is deported on Monday he will not be able to participate in the civil rights case. He is a key witness in the case.

Colala is one of several people found on the street, and presumably because of his skin tone and lack of English skills, was assumed to be an undocumented immigrant. According to court papers, here’s his version of what happened that June 2007 day:

Colala left his home to walk to work but returned home to pick up something. At his building, officers approached him and asked if he lived there. They also asked for his ID. His ID was inside, he said. Then he was handcuffed and forced inside and upstairs to his apartment. At the apartment’s landing, officers drew guns and demanded he open the locked door. Without a search warrant or consent, officers entered the apartment.

According to a 2007 interview with the Advocate, one of Colala’s roommates was in the shower when ICE agents entered the home. He was handcuffed when he exited the shower and found Colala handcuffed and sitting on the living room floor.