Updated Dec. 28, 9:57 a.m.
The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office has settled a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California that alleges it’s been out of compliance when handling the detention of undocumented immigrants.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Sacramento resident Misael Echeveste, along with United Latinos and NorCal Resist. Echeveste is a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient who had lived in Sacramento since childhood. He was arrested in 2018 after being mistaken for starting a fight, was convicted of misdemeanor charges and served a short sentence in Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center.
“He should have been released to his family afterwards and put this minor setback behind him, but instead, the jail invited Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to come pick him up, and as a result he lost his DACA status and was placed into deportation proceedings,” Minju Cho, a staff attorney with the ACLU said. “Mr. Echeveste’s story really shows the harms that flow from local law enforcement collusion with ICE.”
The ACLU found that the Sheriff’s Office was violating two California laws — the California Values Act and TRUTH Act. The Values Act limits when local law enforcement can transfer a person to ICE. The TRUTH Act requires that officials provide written notification of ICE requests to interview them or transfer them to ICE custody.
Echeveste is currently fighting deportation to Mexico, but the ACLU is hopeful that this lawsuit will prevent future undocumented immigrants in Sacramento from encountering the same proceedings.
Cho said that overall, finding a county out of compliance with these two California laws is not unheard of. She mentioned that both laws are written with a lot of exceptions to when law enforcement can turn people over to ICE. Because the laws leave these exceptions, it can make it difficult for people to parse when someone is and is not covered by these laws.
While the settlement will not be able to help Echeveste fight deportation, Cho hopes that it can help future undocumented immigrants.
“Sacramento’s new compliance with state laws should mean that people are not handed over to ICE, but allowed to return home to their families when they’ve finished their county jail sentences,” Cho said. “We hope that this will keep families together and prevent family separations going forward.”
The ACLU will be monitoring the county for compliance for the next five years. The Sheriff’s Office has said they don’t comment on lawsuits.
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified the department which convicted Misael Echeveste on misdemeanor charges. It has since been updated.
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