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PRNewswire, Feb. 11, 2021 - Migrants' rights group searches for victims in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Ecuador
"Individuals who were held in L.A. County jail based on ICE holds in the period from October 2010 to June 2014 may be eligible to participate in a financial settlement to compensate them for rights violations committed by the L.A. County Sheriff's Department (LASD). More than 18,500 people are entitled to receive restitution from the $14 million USD settlement. Class members are eligible to receive from $250 to $25,000 based on the time they were held and other details. In order to receive compensation, individuals must submit a claim — which does not require them to disclose their immigration status — no later than October 10, 2021. All information submitted by claimants will be kept confidential.
The class action suit Roy v. County of Los Angeles was brought by immigrants unlawfully detained by the LASD — sometimes for months — due to "ICE hold" requests (also known as immigration detainers). A federal court ruled that LASD violated the constitution by jailing people solely on the basis of these holds. Lee Baca was L.A. Sheriff for most of the period in which violations took place; Baca is currently serving a three-year prison term for obstructing a federal investigation.
"As immigrants, we come from different countries, and law enforcement bodies act like basic protections don't apply to us," said Antonia C., who was detained after being wrongfully accused of car theft. She was denied bail because of an ICE hold and kept in jail for 70 days in 2012. "They broke my family and home. When they lock you up, they break you. They hurt my physical and mental health. All of us who were affected by this arrangement between ICE and the Sheriff's Department, we need to put our voices together. While no amount of money will ever be enough to mend our scars, this compensation fund is so important. We need to take what we're owed and show them that what they did to us -- to our families -- matters."
Antonia's daughter, who prefers to remain anonymous, said: "These actions don't only affect people who were jailed -- think about their families. I was only 11 years old when my mom was torn away. They broke us apart. I was filled with confusion and sadness. Without my mom by my side, I felt like I didn't have a place in this world. We lost everything. Every day that your family member isn't there is painful. Think of everything you miss -- we will never get that time back. My mom is my own personal superhero -- she's strong and kind-hearted. I'm so proud of her for bringing this case and playing an important role in establishing this compensation fund. Injustice often goes without consequence -- you don't usually get anything. But this feels different. It's like my mom and I, and countless other families, might finally get closure and justice."
In collaboration with the ACLU of Southern California and the law firm of McLane, Bednarski & Litt, Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc. (CDM) is conducting media and public outreach to identify class members and encourage them to come forward with claims. CDM, a binational migrant workers' rights organization has successfully identified class members and assisted in settlement distribution in high-profile immigration and migrant worker lawsuits. In this case, the organization will focus its efforts on reaching Spanish-speaking class members in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Ecuador, and California.
"This case embodies a pervasive practice: local law enforcement agencies bowing to ICE and undermining immigrants' rights. This unconstitutional deference to ICE policies has brutal consequences for individuals, families and communities across borders," said Evy Peña, CDM's Communications and Development Director. "We have reason to believe that people may have been deported as a result of the L.A. Sheriff's actions. While locating class members may pose a challenge, given the geographic range of our search, we see this as an opportunity. Every qualified class member who was treated unlawfully will be able to receive compensation, regardless of where they are."
"Let this settlement be a wake-up call to all those law enforcement agencies around the country that today continue to jail people unlawfully at ICE's warrantless requests," said Jennie Pasquarella, co-counsel on the case, ACLU SoCal director of immigrants' rights and senior staff attorney. "They should stop or be held liable in damages to all the people they've unlawfully detained."
"For years, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, the largest law enforcement agency in the United States, callously denied immigrants constitutional protections that universally apply to all other jail detainees — unjustifiably holding them without cause as prisoners," said Lindsay Battles, co-counsel on the case, and an attorney with McLane, Bednarski & Litt. "This settlement holds the sheriff's department accountable for thousands of unlawful incarcerations and provides a measure of compensation to every person injured by their unconstitutional policies."
Individuals who believe they may be victims are encouraged to visit www.ICEHoldCaseLA.com or call 1-833-537-1192 to learn more about how to file a claim.
The answers to frequently asked questions can be found below.
Who is affected?
More than 18,500 people are entitled to compensation from the settlement covering ICE detainers issued from October 2010 to June 2014. There are 3 categories of people affected:
How much money can class members get?
Class members are eligible to receive from $250 up to $25,000, based on how long they were held and other circumstances:
It is anticipated that many class members who were detained solely on an immigration detainer will receive several thousand dollars.
Surplus funds, if any after class members are paid, will go to programs that provide legal representation to persons facing immigration consequences because of an arrest or conviction.
How to get money from the settlement?
To receive money, you must make a claim no later than October 10, 2021. You can file a claim online, by email or by mail. Go to www.ICEHoldCaseLA.com to learn more about how to file a claim form.
What are my other options?
Exclude Yourself: If you want to remove yourself from the lawsuit entirely, or if you want to be able to file your own lawsuit, or be part of a different lawsuit, then you must take steps to exclude yourself. You must mail your Exclusion Request, postmarked no later than October 10, 2021.
Object: You can remain a class member and object to any part of the settlement by October 10, 2021.
Do nothing: If you do not file a claim, you will not get money from the settlement, but you will still be bound by the terms of the Settlement.
Visit the website www.ICEHoldCaseLA.com for more detailed information.
How do I know my information will be kept confidential?
The parties in this case agree to keep confidential all information you submit in connection with the settlement. We will not tell ICE that you submitted a claim. Your contact information and family members' contact information will not be disclosed to anyone other than attorneys for the plaintiffs and the case administrator.
How long will this process take?
The court has scheduled a hearing for November 19, 2021 to decide whether to approve the settlement. The motion for attorney's fees and cost will be posted on the website after they are filed. You may attend the hearing at your own cost, but you do not have to. After final court approval, it will take at least two to three months or longer, to process claims, calculate the amount due to each class member, and begin payments.
This is only a summary. For more details, go to the website www.ICEHoldCaseLA.com or call 1-833-537-1192. The website has links to all settlement documents in this case, as well as the motion for attorneys' fees.
SOURCE CLU of Southern California, the law firm of McLane, Bednarski & Litt, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, and the National Immigrant Justice Center."