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Colo. County Pays $25K Settlement to Undocumented Detainee

February 15, 2023 (1 min read)

Sean Rice, KRDO, Feb. 14, 2023

"Attorneys for former El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder, who was being sued in his official capacity, have agreed to pay a $25,000 dollar settlement to someone immigration authorities say was an undocumented immigrant. The immigrant filed a federal lawsuit claiming his rights were violated by being held in the El Paso County Jail solely based on his immigration status. According to federal court documents, the undocumented immigrant named Saul Cisneros was held in the El Paso County Jail on two misdemeanor charges in late 2017. The complaint, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) states, "Sheriff Elder falsely imprisoned Mr. Cisneros for nearly four months after state law required his release. Sheriff Elder carried out this unlawful deprivation of liberty in the absence of a judicial warrant, without probable cause for a crime, and without any other valid legal authority." ... [The] settlement was presented to the ACLU and Cisneros after 5 years of litigation in both federal and district court in El Paso County. ... The ACLU says they consider the offer of judgment to be an acknowledgment that Elder was "wrong" for holding Cisneros in the jail solely at the request of ICE due to Mr. Cisneros' immigration status. "Mr. Cisneros is actually responsible for some pretty major changes to Colorado law, not only as a successful plaintiff in a class action ending an unconstitutional policy but as being the one responsible for the Colorado legislature to put that ruling into a Colorado statute," Silverstein said. The ACLU Legal Director is referring to a 2019 Colorado law that was written in response to the Cisneros litigation with El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder. The law titled "Protect Colorado Residents From Federal Government Overreach" prevents local law enforcement from placing people in their county jails on 48 holds at the request of federal immigration authorities."

[The ACLU will be releasing a statement on the Cisneros v. Elder case soon.  For prior coverage, see here and here.]