According to reporting from the ABC 7 Los Angeles, the City of Laguna Beach will pay $18,750 to settle a lawsuit brought on behalf of a local man who was unlawfully detained and held for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Edgar Torres Gutierrez was held for more than a dozen hours by the Laguna Beach Police Department before being transferred directly into the custody of ICE. Notably, Mr. Torres Gutierrez, a student at a local college, is a DACA receipt.
Laguna Beach Police Held a DACA Receipt for 15 Hours, Transferred Him to ICE
In the summer of 2018, Mr. Torres Gutierrez was pulled over on suspicion of intoxicated driving. At this point in time, the officer inquired about and learned of his immigration status—including the fact that he was enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. DACA protects undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children from deportation.
However, despite this, the Laguna Beach Police Department detained the college student for more than 15 hours and, subsequently, transferred him to federal immigration officers. This occurred even though the student was not being accused of a felony offense or any violent offense. After entering ICE custody, Mr. Torres Gutierrez was detained in a Southern California immigration detention facility for several days before eventually being released by the agency.
ACLU Lawsuit: The City Violated the California Values Act
After learning of the incident, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit on behalf of the student. Specifically, the civil rights organization alleges that the Laguna Beach Police Department violated its duties under the California Values Act. Often referred to more simply as California’s sanctuary state law, the California Values Act limits cooperation between state and local law enforcement agencies and federal immigration officers. Immigrants who are accused of minor offenses cannot be held for Immigration Customs and Enforcement.
Laguna Beach has now agreed to settle the lawsuit by paying $18,750 to the affected DACA recipient and retraining all officers to ensure that they understand their responsibilities under California state law. A representative for the UC Irvine School of Law Immigrant Rights Clinic, which helped to advocate for the legal rights of Mr. Torres Gutierrez, commended him for coming forward and taking legal action so that other members of the communities will hopefully be able to avoid the experience he went through.
Call Our Southern California DACA Attorneys for Immediate Assistance
At the Law Office of Joshua L. Goldstein, PC, our Los Angeles immigration lawyer will protect your rights and help you navigate the immigration process. We have considerable experience assisting clients with a wide variety of complex cases. If you have questions about DACA or DACA renewals, our attorneys are here to help. Call us now at (213) 262-2000 for a completely confidential review of your case. Our law firm represents DACA recipients in Los Angeles and throughout the surrounding region.