May 17, 2024

Munger, Tolles & Olson Protects Immigrants’ Rights After Court Rules ICE’s “Knock and Arrests” Are Unconstitutional

Munger, Tolles & Olson, in partnership with the ACLU Foundation of Southern California and the UC Irvine School of Law Immigrant Rights Clinic, achieved a landmark victory for immigrants’ rights when a federal court ruled that the use of so-called “knock and talks” by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for the purpose of arresting individuals is unlawful and unconstitutional.

In his written ruling, U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright II explains that the “knock-and-talk” practice, as defined by the U.S. Supreme Court, is permissible under the Fourth Amendment, but the way ICE defines and carries out this practice is not. Although the Fourth Amendment generally permits ICE officers to approach a home without a warrant merely to speak with a resident, ICE unlawfully uses “knock and talks” for the purpose of arrest. The Court’s order holds that the Constitution prohibits ICE officers from approaching a home and encroaching upon the home’s curtilage—the constitutionally protected areas around a home—“with the intent to arrest.” “Considering the policies and practices governing how ICE conducts its ‘knock and talks,’ the more accurate title for certain law enforcement operations would be ‘knock and arrests,’” according to the Court.

In this class action lawsuit filed in April 2020, Kidd v Mayorkas, MTO and co-counsel challenged ICE’s deceptive home arrest practices in Los Angeles and the surrounding region. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of two community organizations, the Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice (ICIJ) and the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA) and an individual, Osny Sorto-Vasquez Kidd. Agreeing with a persuasive motion for summary judgment filed by MTO and co-counsel, Judge Wright vacated the unconstitutional “knock and talk” practice on May 15, 2024. The order vacating the “knock and talk” practice applies to ICE’s Los Angeles Field Office, which covers Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.

Following the ruling, MTO attorney Giovanni Saarman González said that “this significant legal victory further clarifies the law around the permissible use of ‘knock and talks.’ The order will curb ICE’s deceptive ‘knock and arrest’ practices and provide meaningful relief to the class and the broader Southern California community. We are thrilled with this result and humbled by the opportunity to participate in this effort to hold ICE accountable.”

The MTO team included Jake Kreilkamp, Giovanni Saarman González, Gabriel Bronshteyn and Joey Glynn.

Read the press release from the ACLU.

The case garnered media coverage in the Los Angeles Times, Law360 and other publications.

About MTO’s Pro Bono Practice

Contributing to the community through pro bono work and other forms of volunteerism is a core tenet of the culture at Munger, Tolles & Olson. The firm was one of the charter signatories to the American Bar Association’s pro bono challenge and consistently devotes more than three percent of all attorney time to delivering needed pro bono legal assistance. We are proud to be one of the select group of firms to have received the ABA’s coveted Pro Bono Publico Award.

Learn more about our pro bono practice.