ACLU sues over Florida de­tainee

Sanc­tu­ary pol­icy of Trump faulted

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NATIONAL - ADRI­ANA GOMEZ LICON

MI­AMI — Mi­ami-Dade County is vi­o­lat­ing the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion by de­tain­ing peo­ple with­out a war­rant to com­ply with Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies, the Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union said Wed­nes­day in a fed­eral lawsuit.

The ACLU and other at­tor­neys filed the lawsuit in Mi­ami on be­half of a Hon­duran-born U.S. cit­i­zen who was held in jail with­out charges be­cause an im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cer had re­quested de­por­ta­tion pro­ceed­ings.

Mi­ami-Dade County, where more than half the pop­u­la­tion is for­eign-born, be­came the only large ju­ris­dic­tion to give in to Trump’s im­mi­gra­tion or­der pun­ish­ing so-called sanc­tu­ary cities for shield­ing res­i­dents from fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion au­thor­i­ties. Cities in Cal­i­for­nia, Mas­sachusetts and Wash­ing­ton have chal­lenged Trump’s ex­ec­u­tive or­der in court, and a fed­eral judge blocked it in April, at least tem­po­rar­ily.

Gar­land Cree­dle was ar­rested March 12 in a do­mes­tic-vi­o­lence case and was due to be re­leased March 13 on bail.

The 18-year-old was held an ad­di­tional night on the “de­tainer” re­quest be­fore be­ing re­leased March 14 — ap­par­ently af­ter im­mi­gra­tion au­thor­i­ties con­firmed his cit­i­zen­ship.

Al­though Cree­dle is a U.S. cit­i­zen, at­tor­neys be­hind the lawsuit ar­gue that any­one held be­yond the clos­ing of a crim­i­nal case on an im­mi­gra­tion de­tainer is be­ing “un­law­fully de­tained.”

“The fact that he is a U.S. cit­i­zen and is held un­der these de­tain­ers is im­por­tant be­cause it shows that the prob­a­ble-cause de­ter­mi­na­tion on the de­tain­ers form does not pass con­sti­tu­tional muster,” said Re­becca Sharp­less, an at­tor­ney for Cree­dle and di­rec­tor of the Univer­sity of Mi­ami law’s im­mi­gra­tion clinic. “If you are a U.S. cit­i­zen and a de­tainer is is­sued to de­ter­mine there is prob­a­ble cause to de­port you — that is wrong.”

The com­plaint says the county is in vi­o­la­tion of the Fourth Amend­ment, which pro­tects peo­ple from un­rea­son­able ar­rests.

The lawsuit also says Florida law pro­hibits jail of­fi­cials from de­tain­ing peo­ple for civil im­mi­gra­tion pur­poses.

Be­tween Jan. 27 and June 15, the county re­ceived 338 re­quests for de­tain­ers, and 124 peo­ple were turned over to Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment. More than 100 of the oth­ers were still in cus­tody.

The rest were re­leased be­cause Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment had with­drawn the re­quest or had not gone to pick them up from jail.

A 2013 county res­o­lu­tion es­tab­lished that Mi­ami-Dade law en­force­ment of­fi­cers would com­ply with fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials only in cases of se­ri­ous charges or con­vic­tions or when the fed­eral govern­ment agreed to re­im­burse the county for hold­ing an of­fender.

But on Jan. 26, a day af­ter Trump an­nounced he would strip fed­eral fund­ing from sanc­tu­ary ar­eas, Mi­ami-Dade County Mayor Car­los Gimenez sent a memo in­struct­ing the cor­rec­tions di­rec­tor to honor all im­mi­gra­tion de­tainer re­quests.

The lawsuit names Gimenez and the county as de­fen­dants and seeks an undis­closed amount of com­pen­sa­tion and the re­ver­sal of the county’s pol­icy on hold­ing peo­ple for im­mi­gra­tion au­thor­i­ties.

A county spokesman said the mayor will not com­ment on the lawsuit.

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