A US citizen is suing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, alleging that he was illegally detained. By law, ICE is prohibited from detaining US citizens.
The Daily Beast reports that Rony Chavez Aguilar spent two weeks in county jail in Chicago after he pleaded guilty to drug charges. However, according to his lawyer Charles Roth, instead of being released as planned, ICE agents believed he was an undocumented immigrant and sought to deport him. The transferred him to a facility in Kentucky where ICE holds other detainees facing deportation.
“He said, ‘Hey, I’m a citizen!’” Roth recalled. “And basically they said, ‘Tell it to the judge.’” But Aguilar didn’t get to see a judge.
On March 27, Roth, who serves as the litigation director for the National Immigrant Justice Center, launched a complaint against ICE. Per the Daily Beast, the complaint alleges:
“ICE Chicago did not obtain a judicial warrant to arrest Plaintiff; has not provided a sworn, particularized statement of probable cause; has not promptly brought him before a detached and neutral judicial officer for a probable cause hearing; or has not brought him before a judge to understand the charges against him and receive important advisals regarding his due process rights, amongst other procedural protections,” the complaint says.
ICE released Aguilar shortly after the complaint was filed.
The case highlights an important civil rights issue as Trump continues to cracks down on undocumented immigrants. His plan includes withdrawing funding from sanctuary cities that do not comply with ICE detention requests and expanding the power of immigration officials.
An analysis by NPR found that between 2007 and 2015, 693 US citizens were detained in jails illegally at the request of immigration agents, and 818 citizens were held in detention centers. Roth says Aguilar’s case is not uncommon, and hopes to bring other victims together in a class-action lawsuit.