Civil rights lawyers filed a motion in U.S. Immigration Court in Los Angeles Tuesday in an effort to halt deportation proceedings against a handyman they claim was unlawfully arrested at a Greyhound station in Indio.
The immigration agents who detained and handcuffed Los Angeles resident Edgar Solano as he waited for a bus on Jan. 11 violated not only the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, but also numerous regulations, the ACLU Foundation of Southern California alleges in the document.
A July 30 deportation hearing for Solano has been set in Immigration Court in downtown Los Angeles.
“This is not a totalitarian state where government agents can detain and handcuff people without lawful cause,” ACLU SoCal staff attorney Eva Bitran said. “Mr. Solano’s case is one of many similar enforcement actions based on racial profiling that we’ve seen by Customs and Border Protection on Greyhound property.”
A representative of U.S. Customs and Border Protection could not be reached for immediate comment.
On the day of his arrest, Solano was doing a repair job in Indio, according to the ACLU. Because his car wasn’t running, he traveled by bus and planned to take the 9:25 p.m. Greyhound back to Los Angeles from Indio. The bus was more than an hour late.
When the bus finally arrived, the ACLU contends, Solano was standing in line to board, but two plain-clothed men approached him and asked his name and address, according to the motion.
Solano answered them but the men, who had not identified themselves, asked Solano to show identification, the document alleges. He told them he would rather not, because if he was delayed he would miss the last bus home for the night, according to the ACLU.
But one of the men ordered him out of line, took him by the arm and steered him toward an unmarked pickup truck in the parking lot as the other man motioned to the bus that it could leave without him, the civil rights group alleges.
When they got to the truck, Solano’s hands were handcuffed behind him. The ACLU contends that only then did the men identify themselves as immigration enforcement agents. They showed him badges reading, “Customs and Border Protection,” according to the court document.
At that point, the agents had already violated the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution and regulations, the ACLU alleges. Long-standing court rulings have held that immigration agents cannot detain a person without reasonable suspicion based on specific facts, according to the ACLU, and the courts have ruled that the suspicion cannot be merely based on ethnicity.
A 1994 court decision involving U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service agents is one of many cited in the ACLU motion. It states, “Allowing INS agents to seize and interrogate an individual simply because of his foreign-sounding name or his foreign-looking appearance risks allowing race or national origin to determine who will and who will not be investigated.”
Under further questioning by the agents that night in Indio, Solano admitted he did not have papers authorizing his presence in the United States. He was arrested and spent more than two months in a detention facility before getting a bond hearing, the ACLU said.