LOS ANGELES, CA – Today, MALDEF and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) announced a settlement in the first-ever lawsuit alleging violations of California’s TRUST Act, which limits the situations in which local law enforcement agencies may detain individuals on the basis of immigration hold requests. Plaintiff Sergio Flores was detained by the City of Baldwin Park on an immigration hold over a span of four days in March 2014, following his arrest for driving without a license. Under the settlement announced today, the City will compensate Mr. Flores for emotional distress he suffered during his unlawful detention and will also pay attorneys’ fees and costs.
“This lawsuit and settlement should ensure that the City of Baldwin Park, its private contractor operating the jail, and other California jurisdictions follow the law and avoid violating the rights of individuals to fair treatment under the TRUST Act,” stated Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel. “Keeping a small boy from his father should never occur in reaction to a faulty request from immigration authorities.”
Plaintiff Sergio Flores said, “I brought this lawsuit to make sure that what happened to me doesn’t happen to anyone else. I still remember how scared my son was when I didn’t come home that weekend. The police should be protecting our communities, not separating families by collaborating in the enforcement of outdated and unjust immigration laws.”
California’s TRUST Act, which went into effect on January 1, 2014, 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 — by ensuring that individuals like Mr. Flores are not transferred to immigration custody after minor contact with local police.
Jessica Karp Bansal, NDLON Litigation Director, said, “This settlement sends a strong message to local law enforcement agencies throughout California that there are consequences for violating the TRUST Act.”
Matthew Barragan, MALDEF Staff Attorney, said, “We hope that this settlement encourages local law enforcement officials to work to build trust between their agencies and immigrant families by prioritizing public safety over immigration enforcement.”
The settlement agreement in this case is available here.
Anyone who believes they or their family has been detained on an immigration hold in violation of the TRUST Act should call the TRUST Act hotline at 1-844-TRUST-01 (1-844-878-7801) to report the violation and request assistance.