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Judge Finds that Frederick County and Sheriff Liable for Illegal Arrest of Latina Immigrant Resident for “Eating While Brown”

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Judge Finds that Frederick County and Sheriff Liable for Illegal Arrest of Latina Immigrant Resident for “Eating While Brown”

Location: 
Baltimore, MD
CONTACT: Christiaan Perez, cperez@latinojustice.org, 212-739-7581 
 
Maryland Federal District Court Judge Catherine C. Blake has ruled that Frederick County and the Frederick County Sheriff is liable for the October 2008 illegal arrest of a resident by the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office based upon a civil immigration warrant. Judge Blake’s September 27, 2018 decision granted plaintiff summary judgment in Santos v. Frederick County Board of Commissioners et al and is a major development in holding municipalities accountable for the aggressive immigration enforcement tactics by local law enforcement, and further limits the abilities of local law enforcement to independently engage in immigration enforcement.  
 
Roxanna Orellana Santos while eating her lunch before work on October 8, 2008 was detained and then arrested by two Frederick County deputies. They were operating under new directives promulgated by the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office that permitted certain trained deputies to engage in immigration enforcement, while also mandating that deputies must arrest any individual whom they confirmed was the subject of an outstanding immigration warrant.  
 
A prior August 2013 decision by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals had found that the police acted beyond their lawful authority in arresting Ms. Orellana Santos based upon a civil immigration warrant, in clear violation of her Fourth Amendment right to be free from unwarranted searches and seizures. 
 
"I'm very thankful to the people who came to my defense, and am pleased to hear that the judge ruled in a way that will hopefully prevent what happened to me from happening again," said Roxanna Orellana Santos, the plaintiff in Santos V. Frederick County Board of Commissions et al
 
“Two Federal Courts have spoken and found that the policies and practices of the Frederick County Sheriff have resulted in the unconstitutional arrest of Roxanna Orellana Santos and deprivation of her civil liberties” said LatinoJustice PRLDEF Deputy General Counsel Jose Perez, one of Ms. Santos’ attorneys on the case. “It is time for Frederick County and the Sheriff to listen to and heed the court’s rulings, or they will continue to be held liable and pay.” 
 

“We are very pleased and gratified by the court’s decision which comes after nearly nine years of litigation. It vindicates our client’s claim that her unconstitutional seizure and arrest are directly traceable to the actions of the Frederick County Sheriff” stated Brian J. Whittaker of Nixon Peabody LLP co-counsel for the plaintiff.

"This court decision underscores that localities enter into 287(g) agreements at significant financial peril," said George Escobar, Chief of Programs and Services at CASA.  "These agreements are repugnant to our sense of fundamental human rights, but they can also tank a county budget."

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