Los Angeles Times

Migrant who sued after his detention will get $10,000

- By Andrew J. Campa

After Huntington Park police arrested Jose Luis Maldonado Aguilar on suspicion of public intoxicati­on, they didn’t book him with a crime.

Instead, they detained him until immigratio­n officials could pick him up.

During his 46 days at an immigratio­n detention center in the high desert, he lost his job as a constructi­on worker, and several of his cars were repossesse­d, according to his attorneys. His family almost became homeless.

Maldonado, 45, sued the city and its police department, alleging that they had violated the California Values Act, a state law preventing local police from questionin­g and holding people on alleged immigratio­n violations.

In a settlement reached Wednesday, Maldonado will receive $10,000. The city agreed to end detentions based on requests from immigratio­n enforcemen­t agencies.

The city is also donating $74,100 to an immigrant advocacy organizati­on, the Council of Mexican Federation­s in North America, and will hold an annual forum to educate the public about immigratio­n enforcemen­t.

Huntington Park, a city of about 54,000, is 97% Latino.

According to records obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union and cited in the lawsuit, the Huntington Park Police Department from January 2018 to August 2019 transferre­d at least 29 people to immigratio­n officials “on the sole basis of an immigratio­n detainer request.”

The city was operating under a “de facto policy of detaining individual­s based on immigratio­n detainer requests” from U.S. Immigratio­n and Customs Enforcemen­t, the lawsuit said.

In nearby Los Angeles, the LAPD has long had a tolerant posture toward immigrants in the U.S. without documentat­ion. Special Order 40, adopted in 1979, prohibits officers from initiating contact with anyone for the sole purpose of learning their immigratio­n status and rules out arrests for violating immigratio­n law.

Maldonado’s attorneys said he was not available for interviews.

“Jose is thrilled that something is in place that will prevent other people from being separated from their families and losing their jobs and, you know, having their family live in fear of never seeing them again because the police department acted illegally,” said one of his attorneys, Ellen Leonida of the San Francisco law firm Braun-Hagey & Borden, which represente­d Maldonado free of charge.

Huntington Park Mayor Eddie Martinez, City Council members and Police Chief Cosme Lozano did not respond to requests for comment.

Roger A. Colvin, an attorney who represents the city and its police department, said police officials were “in the process of implementi­ng the California Values Act,” which took effect in 2018. Maldonado’s arrest occurred July 15, 2019.

“Rather than engaging in a long and costly court case, the city self-reflected and wanted something positive to come from this,” Colvin said. “That result was achieved in the settlement.”

After Maldonado was arrested, he was held overnight by police, though they never booked him, after immigratio­n officials requested that he be detained.

When immigratio­n officials arrived, they handcuffed Maldonado and took him to the Adelanto ICE Processing Center.

Maldonado, who is in the country without proper documentat­ion, was eventually released and not deported, but the 46 days he spent at Adelanto brought him and his family to the brink of financial ruin.

In Huntington Park on Friday, resident Henry Lozano said $10,000 didn’t seem to be adequate compensati­on for what Maldonado went through.

“But if it stops people from being deported, which is madness, then I guess that’s good,” said Lozano, a baker from South Gate who was shopping at Northgate González Market.

Down the street at Salt Lake Park, Huntington Park resident Sonia Chaidez said about half of her extended family lacks papers, and there is always “a terror someone could be sent away.”

“People just want to work and live their lives,” said the 37-year-old waitress. “If you’re not committing serious crimes or are a danger to society, why should you be deported?”

 ?? Luis Sinco Los Angeles Times ?? A HUNTINGTON PARK resident sued the city on claims it violated the California Values Act, which limits police involvemen­t in immigratio­n enforcemen­t.
Luis Sinco Los Angeles Times A HUNTINGTON PARK resident sued the city on claims it violated the California Values Act, which limits police involvemen­t in immigratio­n enforcemen­t.

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