UPDATE: Preliminary Settlement Approved. See below and here for more details.

Over a six-day period in May 2018, ICE arrested and detained more than 100 people across the Chicago area in “Operation Keep Safe.” Among other tactics, ICE stopped people who officers thought may be Latino, made warrantless arrests, and posed as local police stopping cars for minor traffic issues. These practices ripped law-abiding people from their neighborhoods and families to force them into detention facilities, in violation of both the Immigration and Nationality Act and the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Within weeks of this operation, two Chicago residents who had been swept up by ICE’s unlawful practices sued in federal court. Through their counsel at the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC), the plaintiffs sought to represent a class of individuals who had been or would be similarly unlawfully stopped and detained by ICE.

These men were soon joined by additional individual plaintiffs and two organizations, Illinois Coalition for Immigration and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) and Organized Communities Against Deportations (OCAD), which serve the communities affected by ICE’s unlawful invasions.

The federal government asked the court to dismiss the case, and the ACLU of Illinois joined as co-counsel to oppose that request and further support the plaintiffs’ demands for injunctive relief.  

Driving while brown or “appearing to look undocumented” is not a legal justification to pull over a vehicle, question a motorist, or arrest people who have done nothing wrong. The ACLU opposes such racial profiling, which is unconstitutional and heightens the fears of those already facing potential deportation, family separation and waves of xenophobia.  

ICE conducted these operations across the country, often undermining the efforts of cities like Chicago to foster a welcoming environment for immigrants and trust in law enforcement.

On December 1, 2021, a federal judge granted preliminary approval to a settlement agreement between our clients and the Department of Homeland Security. We expect the judge to grant final approval after an opportunity for class members to object and a fairness hearing on February 8, 2022.  

Among other terms, the 3-year settlement would require ICE to adopt a nationwide policy barring many vehicle stops and warrantless, “collateral” arrests, and would provide a way for ICE detainees who are arrested in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Missouri, Kansas, or Kentucky to challenge detentions that violate the agreement.

Additional details, including the proposed settlement, an FAQ (in Spanish and English), and the notice of proposed settlement and hearing (in Spanish and English), can be found here.

Listen to our podcast episode: ICE Enforcement in Our Communities 


Rebecca Glenberg (ACLU of Illinois); Mark Fleming (National Immigrant Justice Center); Ivan Poullaos, Zachary Sorman, Dan Hoang (Winston & Strawn)

Date filed

May 29, 2018


U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois


Rebecca R. Pallmeyer



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