FEDERAL JUDGE RULES THAT LAWSUIT UNDER CALIFORNIA TRUST ACT MUST BE HEARD IN STATE COURT
District Court Judge Concludes That City of Baldwin Park Wrongly Removed Case to Federal Court
LOS ANGELES, CA - Late Monday, United States District Court Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald granted Plaintiffs' motion to remand a lawsuit for violation of the California TRUST Act back to State Superior Court in Los Angeles. MALDEF, together with co-counsel from the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) and the Immigrant Rights Clinic at the University of California at Irvine School of Law, filed the action in state court on October 8, 2014.
The lawsuit challenges the City of Baldwin Park for unlawfully imprisoning Sergio Flores at the Baldwin Park Police station, detaining him solely on the basis of an "immigration hold," in violation of the California TRUST Act. The City of Baldwin Park removed the action to federal court on December 3, 2014, asserting that federal court has original jurisdiction over the action because "it involves claims of constitutional violations and questions relating to federal immigration law."
The judge concluded in his order: "Here the state law claims are based on the underlying violation of a state law, the California TRUST Act. Even though the TRUST Act references federal immigration law and policy, it does not in fact grant federal courts exclusive jurisdiction over the subject matter of the claim." The Order is not appealable and immediately sends the case back to the State Superior Court in Los Angeles.
"The TRUST Act protects Californians from the enforcement of immigration laws in violation of established federal enforcement priorities," stated Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel. "The court's decision vindicates the state's ability, through its legislature and its court system, to protect its residents in this way."
The TRUST Act (AB 4), signed by Governor Jerry Brown on January 1, 2014, limits cruel and costly immigration "holds" in local jails. California's TRUST Act sought to restore trust between police and immigrant communities in the wake of the Secure Communities program --a discredited federal deportation program that has led to the separation of thousands of immigrant families. MALDEF's suit rests on the assertion that, in direct violation of the law, Baldwin Park Police intentionally and illegally detained Mr. Flores, who was arrested for driving without a license and had no criminal history, for several days on the sole basis of an immigration "hold" request.
"While removal to federal court allowed the City of Baldwin Park to delay the proceedings, Plaintiffs are moving as rapidly as possible to make up for lost time," said Matthew Barragan, MALDEF Staff Attorney. Explaining the court order, Mr. Barragan commented: "The ruling leaves Plaintiffs free to pursue their lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court on all counts."
MALDEF's lawsuit also seeks to prevent any further wasteful and illegal expenditure of taxpayers' dollars in detaining individuals on the basis of immigration "holds" alone.
To view the Federal District Court decision, click here.
Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "Latino Legal Voice for Civil Rights in America" MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit: www.maldef.org.