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Law School Sues
U.S. Department of Homeland Security

By JEFFREY GOLD

Associated Press Writer

January 28, 2008, NEWARK, N.J. --

A law school and a newspaper on Monday sued the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to obtain documents regarding what they said were warrantless raids on the homes of immigrants.

Seton Hall Law School and the Brazilian Voice, both based in Newark, said they sued because the department rejected expedited processing of their request for the records, which was filed Dec. 14 with the department under the Freedom of Information Act.

Seton Hall and the newspaper said the department rejected expedited processing by asserting the raids were not of particular public interest because "a preliminary search of the Internet does not indicate that there is substantial current news interest concerning this topic."

A message seeking comment from Homeland Security was not immediately returned.

The school and the Brazilian Voice, a Portuguese-language paper, said they believe there have been more than 40 immigration raids in New Jersey since January 2006 under "Operation Return to Sender." They seek records about them and the policies and procedures for the raids.

The raids are done by agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an agency within Homeland Security.

"Many victims of the raids believe they were duped or coerced into opening their door to ICE agents, and still have no idea why their family was targeted. Often the individuals arrested in a raid have lived in the U.S. for years, raised U.S.-citizen children, worked hard, paid taxes and established community ties," said Bassina Farbenblum, a lawyer with the school's Center for Social Justice.

ICE arrested 2,079 people in the raids last year, of which 87 percent had no criminal record, according to agency statistics cited by the school and newspaper.