The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Southern California recently filed complaints against Orange County and the cities of Tustin and Huntington Park. The complaint argues that the county and cities violated the California Values Act by allowing local law enforcement to turn over two immigrants to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (USCIS) agency.
Under the California Values Act, state and local governments are prohibited from diverting their resources to aid in any attempt by the federal government to carry out mass deportations. The goal of the Act is to ensure that schools, hospitals, and courthouses remain safe spaces for everyone in Southern California.
Kelvin Hernandez Román was arrested on suspicion of auto theft and possession of forged documents after Tustin police pulled him over while he was driving a friend’s car. Although the police initially stopped him because the vehicle’s tinted windows were too dark, the ACLU claims the two arresting officers questioned him about his immigration status and asked him what country he was from. Hernandez Román told the officers he didn’t have legal status. But when he asked why the officers wanted to know about his immigration status, the officers told him the questions were just routine.
After Hernandez Román was arrested, he was transferred to the Theo Lacy jail facility. According to the claim, officers told him that “ICE was coming for him.” He was then transported to an ICE processing center in Los Angeles by private security guards about an hour after the officers’ comment. He was eventually taken to the Adelanto Detention Center.
The same month Hernandez Román was arrested in Tustin, Jose Maldonado was arrested by officers in Huntington Park for public intoxication. However, in Maldonado’s case, he was detained by immigration officers after police released him from the station. The ACLU’s claim says that Maldonado was detained longer than he should have been after the officers arrested him. According to the claim, Maldonado was held for seven hours so that ICE could have enough time to catch him once he was released from jail.
According to the ACLU’S claim, the Huntington Park Police Department regularly coordinates with ICE to target immigrants so they can be transferred to federal custody, in spite of the California Values Act. The ACLU says that between January 2018 and August 2019, 29 people were handed over by the police department to ICE.
The ACLU is seeking 100,000 in emotional distress damages for Hernandez Román and Maldonado. They are also asking that both men be granted U visa certification due to their alleged false imprisonment.
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