Yesterday, a U.S. citizen won a $20,000 settlement because immigration officials mistook him for being undocumented and detained him for three days in 2016.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) represented Sergio Carrillo, a landscaper living in Rialto, Calif., in a lawsuit against the United States of America with claims that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) were watching him days before his detainment at a Home Depot last summer. So why did ICE think he was undocumented even though Carrillo said he was a U.S. citizen? It’s not clear.
ICE arrested Sergio Carrillo—a U.S. citizen—detained him for 3 days, refused to say why he was being arrested, and ignored his citizenship claims.
We sued and won a settlement for Mr. Carrillo. https://t.co/XA4shbPyZ2
— ACLU SoCal (@ACLU_SoCal) November 29, 2017
“This is every immigrant’s nightmare, even if they have citizenship,” attorney Jennie Pasquarella, the ACLU of California’s director of immigrants’ rights, said in a press release statement. “Sergio was arrested and put behind bars because of the absence of any information on him in their databases, which are known to be full of errors.”
According to The Riverside Press-Enterprise, someone called Carrillo as he was walking into the Home Depot. The caller wanted to know Carrillo’s whereabouts, which prompted Carillo to ask who was calling. The person on the other end hung up and Carrillo received a text that asked the same question.
As he exited the store, police and immigration officials detained him.
“When I heard Sergio’s story, I was shocked,” said Tyler Anthony, an associate at Perkins Coie representing Carrillo along with the ACLU. “Sergio is a U.S. citizen and ICE had no evidence to think otherwise. It’s saddening to think that anyone is potentially in danger of such treatment, and his story is a reminder that we need to hold the government accountable. I am glad that we were able to do so in Sergio’s case.”
Cleary ICE knew they were in the wrong because they settled this matter out of court.
“I think it’s particularly alarming that they never took any steps to investigate his citizenship,” attorney Jennie Pasquarella, the ACLU of California’s director of immigrants’ rights, told The Press-Enterprise. “He claimed he was a citizen over, and over, and over again and nobody took him seriously.”