The Departments of Justice and Homeland Security are unlawfully using a national crime database to get local police departments to enforce civil immigration laws, a class-action lawsuit alleges.
The New York Times reports the lawsuit, which lawyers plan to file Wednesday in Federal District Court in Brooklyn, is the first to challenge the addition of civil information about thousands of noncitizens to the National Criminal Information Center database, which the FBI uses to notify law enforcement agencies about people wanted for crimes.
Immigration violations, like staying in the country after a visa has expired, can lead to deportation but are not criminal matters and have traditionally been the responsibility of federal agents.
Congress has neither authorized nor required local police agencies to routinely arrest people for such violations, and a bill that would do so has drawn unexpectedly strong opposition from many police departments, including those in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Houston, Denver, Boston and Chicago.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are the National Council of La Raza, the New York Immigration Coalition, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, the Latin American Workers Project and Unite.