St. Paul, Minn, - The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota filed a lawsuit against the Nobles County Sheriff and his staff for violating Jose Lopez Orellana's constitutional rights. The ACLU-MN argues that Nobles County denied Lopez Orellana's right to post bail set by a Minnesota court and held him unlawfully for an additional 10 days on the basis of a problematic immigration detainer after his arrest in 2014.
On Nov. 9, 2014, Jose Lopez Orellana was arrested for DWI and booked into the Nobles County jail. The following day a judge set bail. But when his wife tried to post bail on Nov. 21, she was informed the county wouldn't accept her money because Immigrations and Customs Enforcement had asked the Nobles County Jail to hold Orellana for them. ICE will often ask that immigrants be detained by local jails while ICE investigates their immigration status. This is called an immigration or ICE detainer. Orellana finally appeared before a judge on Dec. 1, a full 10 days after he could have been released on bail. During that hearing he pleaded guilty, paid a fine and was released.
"I made a mistake and was held accountable for it," stated Jose Lopez Orellana. "However, I was kept in jail past when I should have been, and I missed out on Thanksgiving with my family and spending time with my recently born child. Spending the holiday alone in jail was unnecessary and unjust."
The ACLU-MN argues that Lopez Orellana should not have been held for an additional 10 days after his family made bail. The Fourth Amendment does not permit people to be detained and imprisoned based on ICE detainers, which lack probable cause. Consequently, multiple courts have found that ICE detainers are merely requests, not mandatory orders a view the Minnesota Sheriff's association shares.
"Nobles County could have released Lopez Orellana as soon as he was able to post bail. Instead the county ignored the constitutional rights of Lopez Orellana and held him for an additional 10 days," stated Charles Samuelson, Executive Director of the ACLU-MN. "When police continue to violate the rights of immigrants that breeds distrust and contributes to a culture of fear and suspicion among immigrants. In order for law enforcement to be effective, they need the trust of everyone in the community, including immigrants."
In their lawsuit, the ACLU asks the court to order the Nobles County Sheriff to stop honoring ICE detainers and award damages to Orellana for his unlawful detention.
Attorneys in the case are Ian Bratlie and Teresa Nelson of the ACLU-MN and William Partridge from the Farrish Johnson Law Office.
Read the complaint here
About the ACLU-MN
The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that protects the civil liberties of all Minnesotans through litigation, public education and lobbying.