MADERA — The ACLU Foundation of Northern California filed a complaint Wednesday with Madera County for illegally re-detaining and transferring former resident Ivan Santos Cuevas to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which then deported him to Mexico.
The Madera County Jail deputies’ actions were a flagrant violation of the California Values Act. Santos Cuevas’ case is just the latest example of a local law enforcement agency violating our state’s sanctuary law, which prohibits alerting federal immigration agents of an individual’s release date from county jail and transferring him unless he has been convicted of certain crimes. These include a serious or violent felony or criminal offenses that can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor.
Late in the evening on December 27, Santos Cuevas, who lived in Madera with his family, was arrested on suspicion of DUI and booked into the county jail. He did not have any prior criminal charges or convictions and should have been released within several hours.
Instead, the following day the jail held Santos Cuevas 40 to 50 minutes past his scheduled release time so immigration agents could take him into federal custody.
“Madera County broke state law when jail officials alerted federal immigration officials of Santos Cuevas’ release time enabling them to gear up their cruel deportation machine,” said Angélica Salceda, a staff attorney for the ACLU of Northern California. “When local police, sheriffs, and jail deputies act as deportation agents, it further undermines trust and confidence in law enforcement.”
ICE lodged an immigration detainer for Santos Cuevas that was signed by an administrative official who is not designated as a judicial officer or magistrate. Therefore, it did not contain the required judicial finding of probable cause to justify Santos Cuevas’ further detention
The complaint also alleges that deputies violated Santos Cuevas’ Fourth Amendment right against unlawful search and seizure. In addition, the jail failed to follow the Department of Corrections own internal policies which state Madera County “will not hold a person beyond his or her release date for the purpose of an immigration hold request or other request.”
The ACLU complaint demands restitution for our client who suffered extreme emotional distress, a violation of his constitutional rights and his deportation from the United States. If the county fails to act on the complaint, a lawsuit could follow.