COURT APPROVES CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT BARRING SAN JUAN COUNTY JAIL FROM HONORING ICE IMMIGRATION DETAINERS
March 22, 2017
Albuquerque--On Friday, United States District Court Judge William P. Johnson granted preliminary approval to a class action settlement barring the San Juan County Detention Center from honoring ICE Immigration Detainers, in the case of Susana Palacios-Valencia and Somos un Pueblo Unido v. San Juan County Board of Commissioners, Case 1:14-cv-1050-WJ-KBM.
Attorneys John C. Bienvenu and Kristina Martinez brought this class action in 2014 on behalf of Susana Palacios-Valencia and Somos un Pueblo Unido, seeking to end the unconstitutional practice of detaining jail inmates based on ICE Immigration Detainers and seeking damages for all inmates who were wrongfully detained in the San Juan County Detention Center when they should have been released.
The settlement provides that San Juan County will no longer detain any inmates, or deliver any inmates into ICE custody, based solely on an Immigration Detainer, unless accompanied by a warrant or order signed by a judge. The policy further provides that inmates will be notified that they are not obligated to speak or meet with ICE while in custody, that their immigration status or national origin will not be inquired into and will be treated as confidential, and that information regarding the release of an inmate will not be proactively provided to ICE
In addition, the settlement provides for payment of compensation to persons detained at the San Juan County Detention Center based on an ICE Immigration Detainer in the three years prior to the filing of the lawsuit, payment to Somos un Pueblo Unido and Susan Palacios for their work in bringing the case, and payment of the plaintiffs' attorneys' fees and costs.
"We commend San Juan County for having ended the practice of honoring ICE Immigration Detainers which do not provide any legal authority justifying incarceration, and for having agreed to implement policies that are a model for every other local jurisdiction to follow in order to comply with the law and avoid incurring liability," said Plaintiffs' attorney John C. Bienvenu.
"We are pleased that San Juan County has decided to settle and put into practice policies that ensure the civil rights of every resident, regardless of national origin," said Marcela Díaz, Executive Director of Somos Un Pueblo Unido. "It is unfortunate that the Trump administration is trying to intimidate local governments into detaining people in jails without the proper legal authority. Somos members have proactively worked in many communities across New Mexico to ensure this does not happen, but when it does we will hold government officials accountable."
The Court has ordered that all inmates who were incarcerated pursuant to an Immigration Detainer be given notice of the settlement and their right to submit a claim, and has scheduled a hearing for August 10, 2017 to decide whether to grant final approval to the settlement.
For stipulation of settlement, click here.
For order granting preliminary approval of settlement, click here.
For further information, contact:
John C. Bienvenu
Bienvenu Law Office
Somos Un Pueblo Unido is a statewide immigrant-led civil and worker's rights organization with membership teams in ten counties and offices in Santa Fe and Roswell.