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Criminals Now Have Safe Haven in New Mexico

If you’re in the country illegally, you are breaking the law. If you’re breaking the law you are acting criminally. If you’re acting criminally, you should expect the police to come knocking (subscription) at your door.

Until now.

The chief federal judge in New Mexico has ordered the Otero County Sheriff’s Department to halt communitywide raids in poor Chaparral neighborhoods conducted solely to find illegal immigrants.

Plaintiffs in a lawsuit said the raids illegally targeted low-income Latino residents and were carried out using Operation Stonegarden funds earmarked for anti-terrorism activities.

The preliminary injunction ordered by Chief Judge Martha Vázquez is virtually unprecedented nationally, at least at this stage of proceedings, attorneys familiar with immigration cases say.

Vázquez entered the order Friday in favor of the Border Network for Human Rights, which filed suit on behalf of more than a dozen alleged victims of the raids, including three children.

Albuquerque lawyer William Slease, who represents Otero County, said he does not comment on pending litigation, but defendants in court documents deny they are acting illegally.

Plaintiffs’ attorney Briana Stone, director of the Paso del Norte Civil Rights Project, said the order marks a milestone. “The judge’s decision confirms that within our borders, everyone has the constitutional rights to be safe in our homes and free from discrimination elsewhere,” she said. “Hopefully this ruling will ease some of the fears that residents of Chaparral have had since Operation Stonegarden began.”

The only residents in Chaparral who should have been fearful are the illegal residents of Chaparral. Someone please explain to me how rounding up law breakers is discrimination? Judges should not be creating new rules of law, but that is exactly what Chief Judge Martha Vázquez has just done.