Groups Sue Frederick County Sherriff for Racial Profiling

This Tuesday, national civil rights organization LatinoJustice PRLDEF, CASA de Maryland, and lead counsel Nixon Peabody LLP will file a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court at Greenbelt alleging that Frederick County Sheriff Charles Jenkins violated the rights of Roxana Orellana when she was taken into custody on October 7, 2008.

The complaint alleges that Ms. Orellana was quietly eating a sandwich on her lunch break when two Frederick County Deputy Sheriffs began interrogating her about her immigration status, took her into custody, and transferred her to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”).

Claims in the lawsuit include that Frederick County Sheriff Charles Jenkins exceeded the jurisdiction’s agreement with ICE under their cooperation 287(g) agreement, that the actions by the Sheriff’s Office were discriminatory and unlawfully violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and that Ms. Orellana‘s constitutional rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth amendments to the U.S. Constitution to be free from discrimination and from unreasonable search and seizures.

Jose Perez, Associate General Counsel of LatinoJustice PRLDEF said that “Since there was never any suggestion of criminal activity by Ms. Orellana, her questioning and detention were clearly based on one element: her ethnic appearance. This is the essence of racial profiling.”

As outlined in the Complaint, the victim spent weeks in ICE custody, leaving a small child at home, the consequence of what advocates in the county have long complained is a practice in Frederick County of targeting people based solely on the color of their skin or whether they have an accent.

“I’m disgusted that in Maryland someone can be jailed because she was sitting outside eating a sandwich. It sickens me to think that a two year old was without his mother for 46 days, all because Sheriff Jenkins doesn’t follow the law.” said Gustavo Torres, Executive Director of CASA de Maryland.

“At stake in this case is a matter of acute public importance. Law enforcement practices that target a group based solely on the color of their skin have no place in America. It takes great courage and commitment for this individual plaintiff to come forward in the name of equal justice under law to stop this discriminatory treatment for everyone who lives or works in the County.” said John C. Hayes, Partner, Nixon Peabody.

The lawsuit comes on the heels of the Sheriffs’ announcement last week that he had detained his 500th immigrant. Increased attempts by local police across the country to involve themselves in federal immigration law enforcement have been accompanied by sharp spikes in complaints of racial profiling.

Lawyers on the case include Sebastian G. Amar from CASA de Maryland; Jose Perez and Diana Sen from LatinoJustice PRLDEF; John C. Hayes, David West, and Cynthia Crawford from Nixon Peabody; and Kimberly Jandrain from Coburn & Coffman, PLLC.

WHAT: Press Conference on Steps of Federal Courthouse

WHEN: Tuesday, November 10th, 2009 at 11 AM

WHERE: US District Court, Greenbelt MD 6500 Cherrywood Ln # 300, Greenbelt, MD 20770

WHO: CASA de Maryland, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, Nixon Peabody LLP

Source: Casa de Maryland

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