Los Angeles to pay $14 million to immigrants who were illegally detained by police

  • The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday agreed to pay a $14 million settlement to immigrants who were unlawfully detained by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
  • Between 2010 and 2014, more than 18,500 people were held past their release date from jail at the request of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
  • "Let this settlement be a wake-up call to all those law enforcement agencies around the country that today continue to jail people unlawfully at ICE's warrantless requests," Jennie Pasquarella, director of immigrants' rights at the ACLU of Southern California, said in a statement.
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Los Angeles County leaders have agreed to pay out a total of $14 million to nearly 19,000 immigrants who were illegally detained by the sheriff's department.

In a class-action lawsuit against the county, lawyers charged that the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, the nation's largest law enforcement agency, violated the US Constitution by jailing immigrants past their release date, sometimes for months at time, on behalf of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

In 2018, a US federal judge ruled that such immigration detainers, or "ICE holds," were essentially arbitrary arrests.

"Let this settlement be a wake-up call to all those law enforcement agencies around the country that today continue to jail people unlawfully at ICE's warrantless requests," Jennie Pasquarella, director of immigrants' rights at the ACLU of Southern California, said in a statement. "They should stop or be held liable in damages to all the people they've unlawfully detained."

More than 18,500 people are entitled to compensation of up to $25,000 for having been unlawfully detained between 2010 and 2014 under the reign of former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, who is currently in prison after being convicted of lying to the FBI and obstructing justice.

The lawsuit was filed in 2012 by Duncan Roy, a British filmmaker who was denied bail over an ICE hold and spent three months in jail, the Los Angeles Times reported.

As of 2020, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department will only detain an immigrant past their release date from jail if ICE obtains a warrant approved by a judge.

"This settlement will likely contribute to a growing trend where local jurisdictions are taking appropriate steps to kick ICE out of their prisons, jails, and courthouses," Chris Newman, legal director at the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, said in a statement. "[I]t is now clear that its coercive practices expose local governments to financial liability."

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