After Huntington Park police arrested Jose Luis Maldonado Aguilar on suspicion of public intoxication, they did not charge him with a crime.
Instead, they detained him until immigration officials could pick him up.
During his 46 days in a migrant detention center in the high desert, he lost his job as a construction worker and several of his cars were seized, according to his lawyers. Her family almost became homeless.
Maldonado, 45, sued the city and its police department, claiming they violated the California Values Act, a state law that prevents local police from interviewing and detaining people for violating the ‘immigration.
In a settlement reached Wednesday, Maldonado will receive $10,000. The city agreed to end the detentions based on requests from immigration law enforcement agencies.
As part of the settlement, the city is also donating $74,100 to an immigrant advocacy organization, the Council of Mexican Federations in North America, and will host an annual forum to educate the public about law enforcement on immigration.
Huntington Park, a city of about 54,000 people, is 97% Latino.
According to records obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union and cited in the lawsuit, the Huntington Park Police Department transferred at least 29 people to immigration officials “based solely on a request for detention of immigration” from January 2018 to August 2019.
The city was operating under a “de facto policy of detaining individuals based on immigration detention requests” from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to the lawsuit.
In nearby Los Angeles, the LAPD has long had a tolerant attitude toward immigrants in the undocumented country. Special Order 40, passed in 1979, prohibits officers from contacting anyone for the sole purpose of finding out their immigration status and excludes arrests for violations of immigration law.
Maldonado’s attorneys said he was unavailable for interviews.
“Jose is thrilled that something is in place that will prevent other people from being separated from their families and losing their jobs and, you know, their families living in fear of never seeing them again because the service acted illegally,” said one of his lawyers, Ellen Leonida of the San Francisco law firm BraunHagey & Borden, which represented Maldonado for free.
Huntington Park Mayor Eddie Martinez, City Council members and Police Chief Cosme Lozano did not respond to requests for comment.
Roger A. Colvin, an attorney who represents the city and the police department, said officers were “implementing the California Values Act,” which went into effect in 2018. Maldonado was arrested July 15, 2019.
“Rather than getting into a long and expensive court case, the city thought for itself and wanted something positive to come out of it,” Colvin said. “This result was achieved in the settlement.”
After Maldonado was arrested, he was held overnight by Huntington Park police, even though they never arrested him for a crime, after immigration officials requested that he be detained .
Eventually, immigration officials arrived, handcuffed Maldonado, and took him to the Adelanto ICE processing center.
Maldonado, who is in the country without proper papers, was eventually released and not deported, but the 46 days he spent in Adelanto brought him and his family to the brink of financial ruin.
In Huntington Park on Friday, Henry Lozano said $10,000 didn’t seem like adequate compensation for what Maldonado had been through.
“But if it keeps people from being evicted, which is madness, then I guess that’s fine,” said Lozano, a South Gate baker who shopped at Northgate González Market.
Down the street in Salt Lake Park, Huntington Park resident Sonia Chaidez said about half of her extended family had no papers and there was always “a terror that someone might to be fired”.
“People just want to work and live their lives,” the 37-year-old waitress said. “If you are not committing serious crimes or if you are a danger to society, why should you be deported? »