After Huntington Park police arrested José Luis Maldonado Aguilar on suspicion of public intoxication, they did not charge him with any crime.
Instead, they held him until immigration officials could pick him up.
During his 46 days in an immigration detention center in the high desert, he lost his job as a construction worker and several of his cars were repossessed, according to his lawyers. His family was nearly homeless.
Maldonado, 45, sued the city and the police department alleging that violated the California Securities Lawa state law that prevents local police from questioning and detaining people for immigration violations.
In an agreement reached Wednesday, Maldonado will receive $10,000. The city agreed to end the detentions based on requests from immigration enforcement agencies.
As part of the agreement, the city will also donate $74,100 to an immigrant advocacy organization, the Council of Mexican Federations in North America, and will hold an annual forum to educate the public on immigration enforcement.
Huntington Park, a city of about 54,000 people, is 97% Latino.
According to records obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union and cited in the lawsuit, the Huntington Park Police Department has transferred at least 29 people to immigration officials “on the sole basis of an immigration detainer request” since January 2018 to August 2019.
The city was operating under a “de facto policy of detaining individuals based on immigration detainer requests” from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to the lawsuit.
In nearby Los Angeles, the LAPD has long had a tolerant stance toward immigrants in the country without documentation. Special Order 40, adopted in 1979, prohibits officers from initiating contact with anyone for the sole purpose of learning their immigration status and rules out arrests for violating immigration law.
Maldonado’s lawyers said he was not available for interviews.
“Jose is thrilled that something has been put in place that will prevent other people from being separated from their families and losing their jobs and, you know, his family living in fear of never seeing them again because the police department acted illegally. said one. of her attorney, Ellen Leonida of the San Francisco law firm of BraunHagey & Borden, who represented Maldonado pro bono.
Huntington Park Mayor Eddie Martinez, members of the city council and Police Chief Cosme Lozano did not respond to requests for comment.
Roger A. Colvin, an attorney representing the city and the Police Department, said police officers were “in the process of implementing the California Securities Act,” which went into effect in 2018. Maldonado was arrested on 15 July 2019.
“Instead of being involved in a long and expensive court case, the city took it upon itself and wanted something positive to come out of this,” Colvin said. “That result was achieved in the agreement.”
After Maldonado was arrested, Huntington Park police held him overnight, though they never booked him for any crimes, after immigration officials requested they detain him.
Eventually, immigration officers arrived, handcuffed Maldonado, and took him to the Adelanto ICE Processing Center.
Maldonado, who is in the country without proper documentation, was eventually released and not deported, but the 46 days he spent in Adelanto brought him and his family to the brink of financial ruin.
On Friday in Huntington Park, Henry Lozano said $10,000 didn’t seem like adequate compensation for what Maldonado went through.
“But if it prevents people from being deported, which is crazy, then I guess that’s good,” said Lozano, a South Gate baker who was shopping at Northgate González Market.
Down the street in Salt Lake Park, Huntington Park resident Sonia Chaidez said about half of her extended family lack papers, and there is always “the terror that someone might be kicked out.”
“People just want to work and live their lives,” said the 37-year-old waitress. “If you are not committing serious crimes or are a danger to society, why should you be deported?”