U.S. cit­i­zen to get $35K for im­mi­gra­tion de­tainer snafu

The Washington Times Daily - - NATION -

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.

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