Kebin Reyes v. Alcantar
The ACLU Foundation of Northern California and co-counsel finalized a settlement with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) in their case involving Kebin Reyes, a U.S. citizen who was six years old when he was illegally detained for ten hours by immigration officials.
We argued that Kebin's constitutional rights were violated when he was taken from his home in San Rafael during a raid in which ICE officials arrested his father, who is from Guatemala.
The ACLU Foundation of Northern California, the ACLU Immigrants Rights Project, Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights (LCCR), and the law firm of Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass LLP represented Kebin Reyes in the lawsuit filed April 26, 2007.
ICE Changes Policy on Detaining Children
Four months after the case was filed, ICE clarified its policy to say that it will not detain children who are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents.
Kebin Reyes is a U.S. citizen who was born in California. He was taken into custody in the early hours of March 6, 2007, when federal agents pounded on the door and stormed into the apartment where he lived with his father.
The federal agents rounded everyone up and demanded their immigration papers. Noe Reyes gave the agents his son's U.S. passport, identifying Kebin as a U.S. citizen.
Father's Request to Find Alternative Care for Son Denied
Despite this, an ICE agent told Reyes to wake up his son so that he could accompany them to the ICE office in San Francisco. Reyes asked several times to make a phone call so that he could arrange for a family member or friend to pick up Kebin. Each of these requests was denied.
When they reached the San Francisco detention center, Reyes' additional requests to make a phone call were denied and federal agents made no efforts to seek alternative care for his son once he was detained.
Kebin and his father were placed in a locked room for the remainder of the day. Kebin was finally released that evening, only after his uncle learned about the incident from neighbors and came to San Francisco to attempt to take custody of the boy.
Part of "Operation Return to Sender"
Reyes and his son were detained as part of the government's "Operation Return to Sender," which led to the detention of more than 24,000 immigrants nationwide, 2,000 of them in Northern California.
In the Bay Area, raids were conducted in many cities and counties including Marin, Contra Costa, San Francisco, Redwood City, and Santa Cruz.
Civil rights groups became concerned about reports of misconduct and abuse by ICE agents. On March 6, 2007, the ACLU Foundation of Northern California, LCCR, and the San Francisco Bay Guardian filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking records relating to enforcement actions.
Despite repeated assurances from ICE staff, the agency failed to provide any records for more than a year. On June 2, 2008, ACLU Foundation of Northern California and co-counsel filed a lawsuit to compel ICE to comply with the requests for documents.