A U.S. citizen who was arrested and detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency is now suing the agency alleging it violated his Constitutional rights.
ICE detained Rony Chavez Aguilar, allegedly for 18 days, because they didn’t believe he was in the country legally.
Aguilar was initially arrested and was serving jail time on drug charges in a county jail in Kentucky. He completed his sentence of about two weeksbut instead of setting him free ICE wanted to deport him as they thought he was undocumented.
The lawsuit alleges the agency transferred him to the Boone County Jail in Kentucky, an ICE-contracted facility that holds people facing deportation. For 18 days, he was not allowed to see a lawyer or talk to a judge.
According to Aguilar’s Attorney, Charles Roth said, “surprised by the detention Aguilar told ICE agents, ’Hey, I’m a citizen!’ And basically they said, ‘Tell it to the judge.’”
The complaint further alleges, ICE asked Kentucky police officers to hold him in a jail there longer than they otherwise would have so the agency could pick him up.
It further states, “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.”
Roth hopes a federal judge will declare that it’s illegal for ICE to detain immigrants for more than 48 hours without letting them see a judge.
The lawsuit filed by Aguilar highlights two main problems faced by immigrants today. One of the biggest challenge faced by the U.S. immigration system is the massive backlog in immigration court that makes some immigrants wait months before they can see a judge. It also highlights the accidental arrest of U.S. citizens by ICE agents.
Aguilar’s case is not the first of its kind. Ever since President Donald Trump rolled out an executive order on immigration, more and more people are detained and lawsuits similar to this are moving through federal courts.
Recently, President Donald Trump referred to the new policies by the United States Immigrations and Customs Enforcement as a "military operation.”
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Lucy Nicholson