Thursday, January 17, 2013

ICE Sued for Illegally Detaining United States Citizen

The ACLU of Pennsylvania has filed suit in the U.S. District Court for Western District of Pennsylvania on behalf of Angelica Davila, a United States citizen for what the executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, Reggie Shuford, calls "a blatant example of ethnic profiling."

It has been alleged that after being stopped for a minor traffic violation, Ms. Davila was illegally arrested by ICE and held overnight in the Allegheny County Jail based on the erroneous belief that she had violated United States immigration laws, and was subject to deportation.

From the ACLU press release:
On the evening of January 22, 2011, Davila and a friend, Joel Garrete, were pulled over on Perry Highway in Wexford shortly after exiting the parking lot of a Mexican grocery store. Davila, a legally licensed driver in Pennsylvania, had forgotten to turn on her headlights. She provided her license, proof of registration, and insurance card to Patrolman Andrew Bienemann of the Northern Regional Police Department. The officer also demanded identification from her friend and asked if he was in the country legally. A native of Honduras, Garrete admitted he was not lawfully present. Bienemann then called the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to check on the status of both Davila and Garrete.  
Davila provided her name, country of origin, and date of birth to ICE Special Agent Brianna Tetrault over the phone and told Tetrault she was legally present in the United States. Davila, who speaks both English and Spanish fluently, agreed to translate while Tetrault spoke to Garrete. 
Nevertheless, after waiting by the side of the road for two hours, both Davila and Garrete were handcuffed and eventually transported to the Allegheny County Jail at the request of ICE. During her ordeal, Davila repeatedly explained to police officers and jail guards that she was legally present.  In fact, Davila was a U.S. citizen at the time of her arrest under a law granting automatic citizenship to children of U.S. citizen parents who were under 18 on February 27, 2001.
Click here to view the complaint.

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