Agreement stops Marion County Sheriff from holding immigrants for ICE

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The Indiana Lawyer on July 12, 2017 by Marilyn Odendahl

An agreement between the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana and the city of Indianapolis will stop the Marion County Sheriff’s Department from detaining immigrants for the federal government.

The stipulated final judgment and order for permanent injunction was filed Monday in the case, Antonio Lopez-Aguilar v. Marion County Sheriff’s Department, et al., 1:16-cv-2457, pending in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. Judge Sarah Evans Barker has not yet signed the document.

Under the terms of the agreement, the Marion County Sheriff’s office will no longer seize and detain individuals based solely on a request from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement or based on removal orders from an immigration court. ICE must supply either a warrant signed by a judge or show probably cause that the person has committed a criminal offense in order for the sheriff’s officials to act.

Lopez-Aguilar filed a complaint in September 2016, claiming the Marion County Sheriff’s Department violated his Fourth Amendment rights by arresting and holding him in the local jail without being charged with a criminal offense. Local law enforcement detained him only at the request of federal immigration officials.

A resident of Allen County, Lopez-Aguilar had traveled to Indianapolis to appear in Marion County Traffic Court on Sept. 18, 2014, for a misdemeanor charge of operating a vehicle without a license. The case was closed after the hearing and he was not ordered to be incarcerated.

Lopez-Aguilar contends that after his court appearance, a sergeant from the sheriff’s department took him into custody and placed him in the Marion County Jail. The next day, Lopez-Aguilar was turned over to ICE.

He was subsequently released on his own recognizance while his immigration case is pending.

The Marion County Sheriff’s Department disputes it seized Lopez-Aguilar. The defendants claim the sheriff’s sergeant merely asked Lopez-Aguilar to walk to an area behind the courtroom where an ICE agent took him into custody.

As part of the stipulated judgment, Lopez-Aguilar is dropping his claims for damages and attorney fees as well as his state-law tort claims of false arrest and imprisonment.