Los Angeles County on Tuesday agreed to pay out $14 million to settle a class-action lawsuit alleging that the Sheriff’s Department routinely held people in jail beyond their release dates solely because of pending immigration investigations.
More than 18,500 people who were held illegally for days, weeks or months from October 2010 to June 2014 because of requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement could qualify for a share of the settlement, attorneys for the plaintiffs said. The Sheriff’s Department agreed to stop honoring detainer requests in 2014.
“It should send a very strong message to law enforcement agencies around the country who continue to blindly comply with ICE’s requests that are patently unlawful,” said Jennie Pasquarella, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union who represented the plaintiffs.
Lindsay Battles, another attorney for the plaintiffs, said the case is significant because it establishes that for years, the Sheriff’s Department “callously denied immigrants constitutional protections that universally apply to all other jail detainees — including the right to post bail and the right to be released from custody under the same terms as any other arrestee or jail detainee.”
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