U.S. citizen to get $35K for immigration detainer snafu
PROVIDENCE | The federal government has settled a lawsuit brought by a naturalized U.S. citizen who a federal judge determined was held on an immigration detainer because of her Hispanic last name and Guatemalan place of birth, in violation of her constitutional rights.
Under the agreement, the government agreed to pay Ada Morales $35,000 and issued assurances that federal databases have been updated to ensure she won’t be detained again, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.
The lawsuit was filed in Rhode Island in 2012. The federal government was dismissed from the case last week after reaching a settlement agreement.
A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment.
Ms. Morales had also sued the state over her detention. Those claims were dismissed, but she could appeal.
Ms. Morales, who became a naturalized citizen in 1995, was arrested by Rhode Island State Police in a benefits fraud case in 2009.
After her initial appearance in court, she was held in custody for a little more than 24 hours based on a detainer issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
She was strip-searched and spent what she described as the worst night of her life at the state prison, according to a January decision by U.S. District Judge Jack McConnell.
In that decision, the judge pointed out it was the second time Ms. Morales had been held on an immigration detainer.
Judge McConnell found that two employees of Immigration and Customs Enforcement had violated Ms. Morales’ Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures.