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American Citizen Sues ICE for Unlawful Detention

June 11, 2021 (1 min read)

NWIRP, June 11, 2021

"Today, Carlos Rios, a citizen of the United States since 2000, filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) seeking compensation for his unlawful imprisonment. ICE officers unlawfully arrested and imprisoned him at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington, while they investigated whether they could seek to deport him. He was finally released a week later. This occurred even though he was sworn in as a U.S. citizen nearly two decades ago. As the complaint in his case explains, ICE officers detained Mr. Rios despite the fact that at the time he was arrested he had his U.S. passport in his possession and he repeatedly told the arresting officers that he is a U.S. citizen. Mr. Rios is represented in the case by the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP).

Mr. Rios was taken into custody by immigration officers in 2019, upon being released from Pierce County Jail after first being arrested on suspicion of operating his motorcycle while under the influence. It is unclear if Pierce County Jail officials reached out to contact immigration officers to advise that he was being released. State law now prohibits county jails from involving themselves in immigration matters in order to prevent precisely this type of abuse. Nonetheless, Mr. Rios was then transferred to the Northwest Detention Center. As Mr. Rios’s complaint notes, not only was he detained, but he was placed in solitary detention conditions. Inexplicably, ICE officials waited a week to finally investigate his case and then order his release.

“I cannot understand why I was detained and why no one listened to me,” said Mr. Rios. “I had my U.S. passport with me when I was detained, and I told this to the immigration officers many times. I hope that this lawsuit can make a difference to ensure that others are not subjected to such terrible, unlawful treatment by U.S. immigration officials.”

“This is an egregious example of immigration enforcement acting with impunity, completely unconstrained by the law” said Matt Adams, Legal Director for NWIRP. “ICE officers should not have arrested him absent clear evidence of an immigration violation. They are free to investigate him, but not to callously imprison him while they perform their investigation.”

The complaint can be viewed here."