MINNEAPOLIS – The ACLU of Minnesota today won a partial summary judgment finding that Anoka County Jail discriminates against people on the basis of national origin, violating the 14th Amendment right to equal protection.
The jail contacts ICE anytime someone who is foreign-born is brought to jail, regardless of citizenship or immigration status. “… The policy in question facially discriminates on the basis of national origin and is not narrowly tailored,” wrote Chief Judge John Tunheim of the U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota.
The ACLU-MN sued on behalf of Myriam Parada, who was rear-ended while driving her siblings home from a birthday party. Coon Rapids Police Officer Nicolas Oman let the other driver go, and instead arrested and jailed Parada. The officer said he couldn’t identify Myriam, despite her Matricula Consular card, proof of insurance, and her stepfather arriving to vouch for her. The jail booked her and then held her for four more hours for ICE, long after jail records suggest Parada should have been released.
“… A reasonable jury could conclude Anoka County deputies slow-walked Parada’s release based solely on their interactions with ICE, which occurred solely because Parada was foreign-born,” Chief Judge Tunheim wrote.
“Coon Rapids police should not have targeted and arrested Myriam simply for being Latina, and the Anoka jail should not have violated her rights even further by holding her for ICE based on where she was born,” said ACLU-MN Staff Attorney Ian Bratlie. “The judge’s ruling today means this discriminatory and unconstitutional policy based on national origin will not stand.”
Both sides had argued for summary judgment on multiple counts. Judge Tunheim denied summary judgment to Officer Oman on the claim that he violated Parada’s equal protection rights, given evidence that Oman posted anti-immigrant messages on his Facebook page and chose not to arrest several non-Latino motorists who drove without a license. The judge allowed several other ACLU-MN claims to move forward. A jury will decide whether the Anoka County sheriff is entitled to qualified immunity, and several state law claims.
“We look forward to vindicating Myriam’s constitutional rights before a jury and are deeply gratified by Judge Tunheim’s decision” said Alain Baudry of Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP.
Attorneys in the case include lead partner Alain Baudry of Saul Ewing; Amanda Cefalu and Nathan Boone of Kutak Rock LLP; and Ian Bratlie and Teresa Nelson of the ACLU-MN.