JGL Files Civil Rights Lawsuit Alleging Howard County Illegally Detained and Transferred Inmate to ICE

in Civil Rights May 4th, 2022

On Monday, May 2, 2022, Joseph Greenwald & Laake filed a civil rights lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland alleging that Plaintiff William Garcia Trejo was illegally arrested, detained, and transferred to ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) by Howard County, Maryland.  Mr. Trejo, who is represented by JGL attorneys Timothy Maloney and Drew LaFramboise, was pulled over by Maryland State Police in September 2020 because he was talking on his cell phone while driving.  He was arrested and taken to the Howard County Detention Center because of outstanding motor vehicle citations and failures to appear.  While under Howard County custody, Mr. Trejo posted bond.  Rather than release him as they were required to do under Maryland law, Howard County continued to detain Mr. Trejo overnight and ultimately transferred his custody to ICE without any legal basis.  Mr. Trejo, a Salvadoran national, has remained under continual ICE surveillance since this detention and risks deportation as a result.  The lawsuit alleges that Howard County and individual officers and personnel violated Mr. Trejo’s rights under the Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and under the Maryland Declaration of Rights.  The lawsuit also alleges the defendants were negligent in their detention and processing of Mr. Trejo and face liability for falsely imprisoning him.

The lawsuit also alleges that Howard County had a longstanding pattern and practice of violating immigrant detainees’ rights.  These rights violations often arose out of Howard County’s lucrative contract with ICE, valued at more than $2.5 million/year, through which the county agreed to coordinate with ICE in the detention of immigrant detainees.  The lawsuit alleges that Howard County had a pattern and practice of transferring immigrant inmates to ICE who, like Mr. Trejo, had a history of only minor infractions.  After Mr. Trejo’s arrest and detention, Howard County ended its ICE contract.  The General Assembly also passed the Dignity Not Detention Act, which prohibited Maryland local governments from entering into contracts with ICE.

Read more on The Daily Record story here

Media Coverage: 

Law 360, May 5th 2022: County Called ICE On Immigrant For Traffic Issue, Suit Says - Law360

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