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ACLU SoCal Communications & Media Advocacy, 213-977-5252,

July 18, 2019

ACLU will appeal the decision. Bello was arrested after reciting a poem critical of ICE.

SAN FRANCISCO – A federal court judge in San Francisco rejected a First Amendment lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Southern California regarding farm worker and college student Jose Bello, now imprisoned at Mesa Verde detention center in Bakersfield. Bello was arrested shortly after reciting a poem critical of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) before the Kern County Board of Supervisors. The lawsuit asked that he be released or that his $50,000 bail be greatly reduced. The court rejected both bids, though it said the arrest was "highly suggestive of retaliatory intent." The ACLU SoCal will appeal.

Please attribute the following statement to Jordan Wells, staff attorney at the ACLU SoCal:

"ICE's chilling claim is that it may retaliate against political speakers like Jose Bello whenever it can point to an additional reason to justify its actions. If that were the law, ICE would have a license to punish its critics. Contrary to ICE's view, the First Amendment prohibits such blatant censorship."

Read the judge's decision here: