Orellana Santos v. Frederick County Board of Commissioners, et al.

LatinoJustice PRLDEF, along with Casa de Maryland and Nixon Peabody LLP filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Maryland, alleging that Frederick County Sheriff's officers violated the civil rights of a Latina woman who was doing nothing more than quietly sitting and eating her lunch in a public area.

LatinoJustice PRLDEF, Casa de Maryland and Nixon Peabody LLP filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Maryland at Greenbelt alleging that Frederick County Sheriff Charles Jenkins violated the civil rights of Roxana Orellana when she was arrested and taken into custody on October 7, 2008.

The complaint alleges that Ms. Orellana was quietly sitting down and eating her lunch in a public area when two unformed and armed Frederick County Deputy Sheriffs surrounded her and demanded to see identification despite no evidence that she was engaging in any violation of criminal law.

The deputies continued questioning Ms. Orellana, took her into custody and placed her in a local jail before transferring her to U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (“ICE”), where she was detained in jail, without any criminal charges, for 46 days, away from her two year old son and family.

The federal suit on behalf of Ms. Orellana alleges that Frederick County Sheriff Charles Jenkins and the other defendants violated her federal rights and exceeded their authority to enforce federal immigration law in violation of their immigration enforcement agreement with ICE, known as a 287(g) memorandum of understanding.

The lawsuit argues that the actions by the Sheriff’s Office were discriminatory and unlawfully violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Ms. Orellana’s constitutional rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth amendments to the U.S. Constitution to be free from discrimination and from unreasonable search and seizures.

The lawsuit comes on the heels of the Sheriffs’ recent announcement trumpeting that he had detained his 500th immigrant. Increased attempts by local police to involve themselves in federal immigration law enforcement have been accompanied by a troubling rise in racial profiling across the state and nation, as local officers see fit to take enforcement of federal immigration law into their own hands.

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