Settlement Limits ICE’s Power to Stop Vehicles and Make Arrests

Last Updated

March 28, 2022

Under the class action settlement agreement in Castañon Nava v. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) must end its unlawful practice of making “collateral arrests” through automobile stops and other enforcement actions in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Missouri, Kansas, and Kentucky. Collateral arrests sweep up any individuals that ICE encounters, regardless of whether they were the target of an enforcement action. Additionally, ICE must implement new policies nationwide that prohibit its officers from making arrests and vehicle stops that violate statutory and constitutional protections. In particular, ICE must cease stopping drivers under the pretext of traffic violations where the stop really was based on racial profiling. To ensure compliance, ICE officers must fully document the circumstances under which they make vehicle stops and community arrests.

The settlement includes the following important provisions:

  1. ICE must implement a new nationwide policy regarding warrantless arrests and vehicle stops. The policy lists the factors that ICE must consider before making a vehicle stop or warrantless arrest. These factors indicate whether there is probable cause that the person is likely to escape before obtaining a warrant and include the person’s history of previous escapes, attempted flight, and ties to the community. The policy also states that ICE officers may only stop a vehicle if they have reasonable suspicion — based on specific, articulable facts — that a person inside the vehicle does not have lawful status. The new policy forbids officers from telling drivers or vehicle occupants that the purpose of a stop is related to any vehicle or traffic violation.
  2. Nationwide, ICE must document in the narrative section of an individual’s Form I-213 the specific, particularized facts establishing the legal basis for a collateral arrest or vehicle stop, including the fact that the person was arrested without a warrant, the arrest location, any community ties that the person has, and other particularized facts justifying a warrantless arrest. Regarding vehicle stops, ICE must document specific facts that formed the basis for its reasonable suspicion that a person in the car did not have lawful status.
  3. Nationwide, ICE must update its training materials to comply with the new policy and train all ICE officers about the new policy.
  4. In Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Missouri, Kentucky and Kansas, people arrested by ICE without a warrant or during a vehicle stop may have individual recourse under the terms of the settlement, including immediate release from ICE detention.

The Castañon Nava settlement provides important protections for immigrant communities and is a significant step toward reigning in ICE’s unconstitutional and racist arrest practices.