City of Marysville Changes Policy and Agrees to Settle Lawsuit After Unlawfully Detaining Immigrant
January 10th, 2020
Matt Adams, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project
Seattle, WA – Enrique Ahumada Meza (Mr. Ahumada) settled a lawsuit against the City of Marysville involving two separate occasions in which the City of Marysville unlawfully detained Mr. Ahumada in late 2017 and early 2018. According to the terms of the settlement, the City agreed to pay Mr. Ahumada $85,000 for violating his Fourth Amendment rights by unlawfully detaining him pursuant to a detainer issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). In addition, the City has changed its policy to ensure that other immigrants are not unlawfully detained. Mr. Ahumada was represented by the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP) and McNaul Ebel Nawrot & Helgren PLLC in the case. The case was originally filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.
State and city law enforcement do not have authority to enforce federal immigration laws and cannot hold immigrants based on a detainer or civil immigration warrant from ICE, unless that detainer is accompanied by a warrant signed by a federal judge. Under its new policy, the City of Marysville will not detain people based on immigration detainers or civil immigration warrants. The policy also reflects recent updates to Washington state law as it sets limits on sharing information with federal authorities, provides for warnings to a detained individual before federal immigration officers can interview a City inmate, and makes clear the prohibitions on notifying immigration authorities about the release of an inmate, among other changes. These changes bring the City’s policy in line with the Keep Washington Working Act, S.B. 5497, which became law last May.
Mr. Ahumada was first detained by the City of Marysville Police Department in December 2017, when officers refused to let Mr. Ahumada go because of an ICE detainer, even though a state court had already ordered his release from custody. Mr. Ahumada was subsequently transferred to ICE custody at the Northwest Detention Center and released on bond in February 2018. After Mr. Ahumada’s release, on February 14, 2018, he turned himself into the Marysville Police Department because his time in immigration detention had caused him to miss a state court hearing. The state court again ordered him released, but the Marysville Police Department unlawfully detained Mr. Ahumada again, this time overnight, based on an ICE detainer. During this second detention, the Department also denied Mr. Ahumada access to critical medication that he must take daily. He was transferred to ICE’s custody on February 15, 2017. ICE then realized he had just bonded out and let him go a second time.
“Every time that I think about what the City of Marysville did to me, it brings up painful memories,” remarked Mr. Ahumada. “But I am glad that the City has changed its policy so that other immigrants like me do not have to suffer the same wrongs and treatment that I experienced.”
“This settlement agreement underscores what federal courts have already made abundantly clear: that local governments are not authorized, and may be held accountable, when they choose to hold someone to enforce civil immigration law,” said Matt Adams, Legal Director for NWIRP.
“At a time when immigrants are being unfairly targeted throughout the United States, it is essential that courts enforce their rights and uphold the rule of law. We are gratified the City of Marysville agreed to change its policy and to compensate Mr. Ahumeda for the mistreatment he endured,” said Avi Lipman and Curtis Isacke of McNaul Ebel Nawrot & Helgren PLLC.
A link to the complaint can be found here
A copy of the settlement agreement and new policy can be found here