LAS VEGAS – A federal lawsuit challenging the City of Las Vegas’s use of immigration detainers has been expanded to include U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), according to papers filed Tuesday.
The amended complaint, filed by MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) and F. Travis Buchanan, Esq. & Associates, PLLC of Las Vegas, challenges ICE’s reliance on requests known as immigration detainers to extend the length of an individual’s detention in a local jail without court review. ICE’s detainers violate the Fourth Amendment prohibition against prolonged detention without probable cause because at no time does the agency hold a probable cause review before a judge or impartial decision-maker.
“ICE, under administrations of both political parties, has been complicit for too long in violations of the constitutional rights of immigrants,” said Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF president and general counsel. “This suit now challenges not only the jailers who unlawfully held immigrants, but also the federal parties that facilitated and even instigated these violations.”
The Las Vegas Department of Public Safety (DPS), which operates the city jail, is also named in the revised suit—as it was in the original suit—because it used ICE detainers to hold immigrants beyond the time otherwise justified in state proceedings. The detainers request that local law enforcement hold a person for no more than 48 hours past their ordered release date to give ICE time to investigate the person’s immigration status. But DPS treated the detainers as mandatory and delayed MALDEF’s clients’ release for longer than their scheduled times so that ICE could pick them up. DPS also has held other individuals for longer than the 48 hours provided in ICE detainers.
The suit was filed in January 2020 on behalf of Alicia Moya Garay, a Las Vegas resident arrested in July 2018 on a minor traffic infraction. Moya Garay was held on an ICE detainer in the city jail past her scheduled release after she had served her 10-day sentence.
MALDEF is also representing Juan Jaime Lopez-Jimenez who was arrested for unpaid traffic tickets in April 2018. The Las Vegas resident was detained for nearly two months by ICE after he was released from the city jail and held for ICE past his jail release time
The suit also includes as a plaintiff Arriba Las Vegas Worker Center, an organization that focuses on immigrant worker rights. Arriba has had to divert its work to aiding immigrants caught up in the city’s jail-to-ICE pipeline.
“ICE and local law enforcement cannot use ICE detainers to circumvent the Fourth Amendment’s protections against unlawful, prolonged detentions,” said Ernest Herrera, MALDEF Western Regional Counsel. “We are asking the Court to require ICE, as well as the City of Las Vegas, to provide for a prompt determination of probable cause to justify detention based on an ICE detainer.”
In October 2019, the City of Las Vegas announced that it would no longer honor ICE detainers after a federal court decision in California, but DPS continued to hold individuals based on ICE detainers.
MALDEF is asking U.S. District Court Judge Anne R. Traum for a jury trial and permanent injunction to stop the city and ICE from continuing the practice, and for monetary damages for Moya Garay and Lopez-Jimenez.
Read the complaint here.