From [HERE] A California woman who was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) despite having been a U.S. citizen for two decades, has won a settlement against the government, according to the Associated Press.
Guadalupe Plascencia, a 60-year-old from San Bernadino, California, will receive a $55,000 cash settlement from “the federal government and San Bernardino County.”
The settlement, obtained through the assistance of the American Civil Liberties Union, stemmed from a March 2017 incident in which the career hairstylist, was detained overnight by county authorities over a decades-old bench warrant issued for her alleged failure to appear as a witness in a court case.
The next day, after being released from the West Valley Detention Center, she was intercepted by ICE agents and taken into custody anew. As the Los Angeles Times reported at the time, “Plascencia would spend the rest of the day in ICE custody, fearful that she would be deported despite having become an American citizen some 20 years ago, following an amnesty program initiated by President Reagan.” Plascencia was mocked by officers when she told them she was a citizen.
“Plascencia's nightmarish ordeal began on March 29, 2017 when she went to the Ontario Police Department to collect property recovered from her car after an accident. She was detained overnight for her alleged failure to show up as witness in a decade-old case. During her detention, sheriff's deputies notified ICE that she was in custody and about the details of her release — even though they had her California driver license and other documentation confirming her legal immigration status. Just when she was walking out of San Bernardino's custody, ICE agents took her into custody. Plascencia could not convince sheriff's deputies or ICE agents to give her the chance to prove she was a citizen. "I felt helpless, like I was no one," she later said in a Los Angeles Times interview. "Here, they talk about rights … in that moment, I realized, we don't have rights."
Her wrongful arrest and detention likely stemmed from the agents' reliance on ICE's electronic records, which are widely known to be incomplete and full of errors. Still, ICE and collaborating local law enforcement agencies have used them to target people for arrest — relying even on the absence of records or on records pertaining to completely different individuals with similar but common Latino names, as they did in this case."
Plascencia was accused by agents of being an unlawful resident and threatened with deportation. An agent finally called her daughter to say her mother was being held, and the agent let Plascencia speak to her, leading to her release.
"Ms. Plascencia, a mother of five and grandmother of 16, has a constitutional right to live in her own country without being unlawfully detained by her government," said Alexandria Ruiz, an attorney with Sidley Austin LLP. "This settlement sends a strong message that her entire ordeal could have been prevented had law enforcement taken a moment to properly investigate Ms. Plascencia's citizenship before arresting her. The Constitution requires no less."
The American Civil Liberties Union filed notices of a claim that week, citing the fact that Plascencia had a California drivers license as well as other paperwork proving her status as a legal citizen of the United States on her person at the time she was remanded into custody by county officials. Plascencia’s protestations were met with mockery by ICE agents, who held her in custody for an hour and a half.
The settlement agreements require San Bernardino County to pay Plascencia $35,000; the federal government will be required to make restitution to the tune of $20,000.