Photo: Juan Barrera, one of the Danbury 11 (left), and Yale Law student intern Justin Cox
A group of day laborers have reached a $650,000 total settlement with Danbury, Connecticut officials, after they filed a lawsuit claiming they had been arrested under unlawful practices.
On September 19th, 2006, 11 men – who would later be known as the Danbury 11 – were approached by what they thought was a contractor looking for workers. When the men got into the man’s van, they were driven only a few blocks. When they arrived at a bank parking lot, the men were turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). “The contractor” was an undercover officer, and the workers were suspected- undocumented immigrants.
Eight of the men arrested later filed a suit claiming that police had no jurisdiction to enforce federal immigration law, and that their arrests were a result of racial profiling policies put in place by the now five-term mayor Mark Boughton.
The suit named the Republican mayor, the city, specific police officers, ICE agents, and the United States.
Representing the Danbury 11 pro bono were the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services organization at Yale Law School, as well as attorneys with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.
“Our clients are thrilled,” said Katie Chamblee, a student at Yale Law School who represented the day laborers. “This is the largest monetary settlement ever paid out to day laborers by any municipality in the country.”
In the end though, both sides are calling the settlement a win, as the 11 men received monetary compensation and the city did not have to admit any wrongdoing and it was not required to change policy or procedure. In fact, Dan Casagrande, the attorney representing the city in the case, said Tuesday, “We view this as a vindication for the city and the actions of the police officers.”
On the other hand, former Danbury mayoral candidate Manuel Bataguas, said he is happy to see the case go the way it did, saying, ““The city has to learn a lesson, and paying the money is probably the only way they will learn. If the city was right, then why is [their] insurance company paying [this money]?”