MALDEF AND NDLON FILE LAWSUIT AGAINST CITY AND POLICE DEPARTMENT OF BALDWIN PARK FOR VIOLATION OF CALIFORNIA TRUST ACT
One Year Following Passage of Law That Limits Cruel and Costly Immigration "Holds" in Local Jails, Groups Call Out Violations
LOS ANGELES, CA - 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, today filed a lawsuit, Flores v. City of Baldwin Park, alleging that the Baldwin Park Police Department and the City of Baldwin Park unlawfully imprisoned 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 TRUST Act (AB 4), which went into effect 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 hundreds of thousands of immigrant families. In direct violation of the law, Baldwin Park Police intentionally and illegally detained Mr. Flores, who was arrested for driving without a license and has no criminal history, for several days on the sole basis of an immigration "hold" request. As a result of his unlawful detention, Mr. Flores is now facing the prospect of deportation and separation from his U.S. citizen son.
"Law enforcement officials who choose to honor ICE holds issued against peaceful immigrants raising families in California undermine public safety and community cohesion," stated Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel. "State law now clearly prohibits this detrimental conduct by police in California."
In addition to violating Mr. Flores' rights under the TRUST Act, the Baldwin Park Police Department refused to allow Mr. Flores to post bail for which he was eligible, and which he was willing and able to pay. By confining Mr. Flores without cause or a judicial warrant Baldwin Park City was in direct violation of state law.
Matthew Barragan, MALDEF Staff Attorney, stated: "The TRUST Act is intended to restore community trust for immigrants who are too afraid of deportation to report crime to local law enforcement. The Baldwin Park Police Department is destroying that trust and transparency, making us all less safe."
Jessica Karp Bansal, NDLON Staff Attorney, stated: "On the first anniversary of the TRUST Act passage, this lawsuit sends a clear message to law enforcement agencies throughout the state-if you illegally detain people in violation of this law, you will be held accountable. No more of California's immigrant families should face separation as a result of cruel, unlawful immigration holds."
Additionally, the lawsuit intends to prevent any further wasteful and illegal expenditure of taxpayers' dollars in detaining individuals on the basis of immigration "holds" alone. The lawsuit alleges that Flores' unlawful detention shows that Baldwin Park City officials are detaining individuals in violation of the TRUST Act.
To view the complaint, 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.
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