U.S. citizen wrongly detained by ICE sues jail

By Ray Downs  |  Updated July 6, 2017 at 6:38 AM
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July 5 (UPI) -- A U.S. citizen incorrectly identified by immigration officials as an undocumented immigrant filed a lawsuit against the jail that detained him and the mayor who implemented the policy.

Law enforcement arrested Garland Creedle, 18, in March for a domestic violence dispute and held him for a night at the Miami-Dade County jail in Florida without a criminal charge. But after posting bond, the jail kept him in custody at the request of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which identified Creedle as an undocumented immigrant.

According to the lawsuit, which was filed by the University of Miami School of Law's Immigration Clinic and joined by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ICE agent who made the request said Creedle was identified as an undocumented immigrant through "biometric confirmation of the subject's identity and a records check of federal databases." Creedle was forced to spend a second night in the Miami-Dade County jail before ICE agents were able to interview him and withdraw the detainer request.

Creedle is a U.S. citizen who was born in Honduras to an American father. He relocated to the United States in 2015 and established his citizenship at that time. Due to his citizenship status, Creedle alleges the Miami-Dade County jail violated his Fourth Amendment rights, which protect against "unreasonable searches and seizures," and denied him his right to due process under the Fourteenth Amendment.

Creedle also alleges that the jail unlawfully imprisoned him by adhering to a policy set forth by Miami County Mayor Carlos Gimenez to comply with ICE detainer requests, an issue that pro-immigration activists have criticized under the Trump administration.

"The mayor and county commissioners failed to listen to our community's overwhelming opposition to this immigration jail policy," said Rebecca Sharpless, attorney for Creedle and director of the Immigration Clinic at Miami Law. "Mixing our local criminal justice system with federal immigration enforcement is not only bad policy, it is illegal. We are all now paying the price."

Gimenez, who has criticized "sanctuary city" policies and declared that Miami "is not -- has never considered itself -- a sanctuary community," is named as a defendant in the lawsuit. In February, Gimenez issued a directive in January for county jails to detain people for up to 48 hours in the event of an ICE detainer request and therefore bears responsibility for Creedle's wrongful incarceration, the lawsuit says.

"The directive reversed over three years of prior policy, under which Miami-Dade [County] declined to use millions of taxpayer dollars to underwrite the federal government's immigration enforcement agenda," the lawsuit states.

An immigration spokesman wouldn't comment on why Creedle was in a database of suspected immigration violators. Creedle also didn't offer an explanation.

"Probable cause is a standard with which all law enforcement officers are familiar," Spokesman Nestor Yglesias said in a statement to the Miami Herald. U.S. "immigration officers are trained on this legal standard and apply the standard every day when making arrests, as well as when issuing detainers."

Creedle isn't the first American citizen to file a lawsuit after being wrongly detained by ICE.

In January, Colorado-born Bernardo Medina filed a lawsuit against ICE in federal court for arresting him without cause and detaining him for three days in 2015.

And in March, naturalized US citizen Rony Aguilar filed a lawsuit after he was arrested by ICE agents and spent three weeks in detention.

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