Immigration Officer: “The Warrant is Coming Out of My Balls”

When residents asked Nashville Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents and police officers to show a warrant when they were forcing their way into their apartment complex last week, one agent reportedly said, “We don’t need a warrant, we’re ICE.” Then, gesturing to his genitals, the officer reportedly said “the warrant is coming out of my balls.”

The ACLU of Tennessee filed a lawsuit on behalf of the fifteen residents, targets of an unlawful immigration raid. The Fourth Amendment strictly prohibits warrantless raids on private homes — for both citizens and non-citizens.

The lawsuit points out that:

“In the absence of a judicially authorized warrant, there must be voluntary and knowing consent; ICE officers forcing themselves into someone’s home does not constitute consent.”

Writes Lindsay Kee, from the ACLU of Tennessee:

“Looking Latino and speaking Spanish is not enough to justify probable cause for questioning and arresting a person.”

Among the plaintiffs are US citizens, says the ACLU, including a child detained and interrogated while playing soccer on the playground, simply because of the color of his skin.

According to the ACLU, on the night of October 20, 2010, Angel Escobar and Jorge Sarmiento were in their beds in their small, two-bedroom apartment in the Clairmont complex in Nashville. Several roommates and friends were in other rooms. The doors and windows were all shut and locked. Suddenly there was a loud banging at the door and voices shouting “Police!” and “Policia!” When no one answered, the agents tried to force the door open. Scared, occupants hid.

ICE agents began hitting objects against the bedroom windows, trying to break them. Without a search warrant and without consent, the ICE agents eventually kicked in the front door and shattered a window, shouting racial slurs and storming into the bedrooms, holding guns to some people’s heads. When asked if they had a warrant, one agent reportedly said, “We don’t need a warrant, we’re ICE,” and, gesturing to his genitals, “the warrant is coming out of my balls.”

This is not a one-off.

Writes Nathan Treadwell in the North Carolina Law Review:

“In the past several years, ICE has made warrant-less home raids a key component of interior immigration enforcement. Such raids, which frequently bring in otherwise law-abiding undocumented immigrants, violate the Fourth Amendment when they take place without the consent of a member of the household. Press and judicial accounts of such raids show that the agency now engages in widespread unlawful entries as well as violent, demeaning, and threatening conduct.”

Similar lawsuits to the one in Nashville have been filed following raids in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Georgia and Northern California.

In Newark, as in Nashville, US citizens were detained. In the Newark case, one plaintiff in the lawsuit, Maria Argueta — who’s been a legal immigrant since 2001 — was detained and held for 36 hours, according to the New York Times. ICE agents entered her home by telling her they were police officers searching for a “wanted criminal.”

In Detroit, according to the Alliance for Immigrants Rights and Reform Michigan, a pattern of Detroit area ICE agent behavior has included warrantless searches, a mother strip-searched in front of her son, detainees, including a pregnant woman, denied needed medicines in jail, an immigrant shoved through a wall by agents and harassment of American citizens.

But in Detroit, as in other locations, internal investigations have found that officers did not engage in any abuse or professional misconduct. Hence the lawsuits.

Related stories:

Secure Communities’ Immigration Dragnet Includes US Citizens

Deportations At A Record High: Are We Deporting For Just Any Infraction?

US Border Agents Have ‘Culture of Cruelty’

Photo credit: Say No to Secure Communities Program


Sarah Metcalf
Sarah M.4 years ago

I can't help but boil with hatred for ICE and all they embody. . .

Cathy Noftz
Cathy Noftz4 years ago

~No one should treat other people in the ways described in the article!~People that want to come to our country should do so in the legal matter!!~All of the illegals in this country are costing the citizens alot of money to substain them!!~

Patrick F.
Patrick f.4 years ago

Well Jane, I guess if you HAD read the story before commenting you would have seen that the plaintiffs in the lawsuit were U.S. citizens. The story has NOTHING to do with Black people at all. What about the people who took the same attitude as you and just turned a blind eye to the discrimination towards the Black people you are doing here? I guess it's only wrong if someone is Black but not if they are Latino or Mexican, right?

K s Goh
KS Goh4 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Matt L.4 years ago

I think it comes down to raising hard low-skill labor wages high enough so citizens will do the work and dealing with the higher cost services and products, or enjoy all the cheap services and products illegal immigrants and other immigrants provide you. They may not pay as much taxes as wealthier people, but they grow our food, build our homes, clean our houses and hotel rooms, take care of our yards, and whatever other services they provide, saving us money in many areas. In other words the contribute.

If the "anchor babies" get a free education, at least they will (hopefully) grow up to be educated, tax paying citizens.

Matt L.4 years ago

Jane, it's not so much the "balls" part as the lack of his warrant, and his blatant disregard for needing a warrant. When you ask law enforcement officer to show a warrant they are supposed to show you a warrant, or they can't enter your property without your permission unless they hear someone screaming or have some other probable cause, smelling crack smoke or something like that. If ICE Officers have the power to just barge into anybody's home then that needs to be changed.

It's great when ICE rounds up drug smugglers and gangsters, they don't need to treat non-violent illegal immigrants like they are dangerous gangsters. Arrest them and deport them if you have too, but making racist remarks, beating them and holding guns to their head and making crude jokes when people demand a warrant as is their right, is totally over the top. Obviously we don't know the whole story, but based on the information provided the ICE agent was totally out of line.

Also, most illegal immigrants don't get a bunch of free stuff, and most work hard and pay taxes just like citizens. They wouldn't come here if people didn't hire them, so maybe if we tried raising minimum wage to levels that citizens would be willing to work for, there wouldn't be as much demand for labor from illegal immigrants. Of course we would have to deal with higher food prices, and construction costs too. Offering them jobs to entice them over, then bitching about how they are breaking the law is just screw

Patrick F.
Patrick f.4 years ago

Jane, isn't the motto of the U.S. legal system innocent until proven guilty? Who will defend YOU when you are discriminated against? You can't get past the fact that not all these people are ILLEGAL ALIENS yet you keep spouting that they are and WE are defending them which is completely inaccurate.

Jane Barton
Jane Barton4 years ago

Goooo, ICE, and don't forget to talk to them just like I got talked to right here on this site!!

Jane Barton
Jane Barton4 years ago

I have constitutional rights too. I suffer a lot from REVERSE discrimination and I am called
NAMES when I speak the truth. If I said the names you called me to illegal aliens you
would call me RACIST!! Who is really the RACIST??? You forgot to call me BLONDE!!!
Let's see, I drink waaaaay to much, I have a big mouth and I have no brain or heart. Mmmmm,
that's not very nice, actually kinda mean. What kind of person would say that kind of stuff
to an old woman like myself?? Why I think it's a RACIST who hates WHITE PEOPLE!

Immigrant I AM
Immigrant I AM4 years ago

Thank you soooo much ACLU!!!!!! :)