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January 13, 2020

The Cities of Huntington Park and Tustin Also Violated California Values Act

The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Southern California today filed administrative complaints against Orange County and the cities of Huntington Park and Tustin for unlawfully interrogating people about their immigration status and detaining them for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The complaints, which can be precursors to lawsuits, detail how the county and cities violated the California Values Act that went into effect in 2018 to restrict local law enforcement's cooperation with ICE. The cases involve two men — Kelvin Hernandez Román of Garden Grove and Jose Maldonado of Baldwin Park — whose rights under that law were violated in multiple ways.

"When police and sheriffs detain local residents for ICE, it has devastating effects for their families and their communities. It is also illegal," said Jessica Karp Bansal, senior staff attorney with the ACLU of Southern California. "We are closely monitoring compliance with the California Values Act to make sure that local law enforcement agencies are held accountable for harmful violations."

In July, Hernandez Román was stopped while driving by two Tustin Police Department officers because, the officers claimed, of his car's tinted windows. The officers proceeded to ask him several questions about his immigration status.

That questioning by police officers was a clear violation of the California Values Act that states local law enforcement officers cannot "inquire into an individual’s immigration status."

Hernandez Román was taken to Theo Lacy jail in Orange that's located in Orange and overseen by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. He was told no charges would be filed against him in connection with the traffic stop. But he continued to be detained so that ICE could pick him up. Private security guards arrived at the jail to place him in handcuffs and take him to an ICE processing center. He was eventually taken to the ICE Adelanto Detention Center where he remains.

The complaint against Orange County states that the imprisonment of Hernandez Román on request from ICE was unlawful under the California Values Act. The actions by sheriff deputies also violated Hernandez Román’s constitutional rights and the TRUTH act.

Maldonado was arrested in July by officers of the Huntington Park Police Department, allegedly for public intoxication. Although Maldonado was never charged with that, he was detained by the Huntington Park Police Department for approximately seven hours on request from ICE so its officers could pick him up.

The detention of Maldonado and his transfer to ICE were both violations of the California Values Act. The Huntington Park police also violated Maldonado’s U.S. and state constitutional rights, the TRUTH act, and other laws. He is currently out of immigration detention on bail.

There is evidence that this has been a regular practice of the Huntington Park police, even after the California Values Act went into effect on January 1, 2018. According to the complaint, 29 people were released by the city’s police to ICE between the start date for the law and August 2019.

All three complaints ask for compensation for the people whose rights were violated. They also ask for investigations into the incidents and training for the law enforcement agencies' staff in the California Values Act and other laws.

Read the administrative complaint against Orange County here:

Read the administrative complaint against Tustin here:

Read the administrative complaint against Huntington Park here: