• IRLI Staff

Santos v. Frederick County Board of Commissioners

An unlawfully present alien (Santos) brought this civil rights lawsuit to challenge her detention by two deputy sheriffs. The deputies detained the alien after a standard warrant check in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Crime Information Center database showed a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) warrant for her immediate deportation for absconding from an immigration detention center in South Texas. The alien sued the two deputies, Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins, and the Frederick County Board of County Commissioners for violating her Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure and Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection rights. Santos was represented by CASA de Maryland, which vociferously publicized accusations that the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff Jenkins in particular were anti-immigrant and operated a scheme of selective enforcement against Hispanics.

IRLI successfully represented the two deputies and all claims were dismissed against them. On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit remanded the case for a determination as to whether the Sheriff and the Frederick County Board of County Commissioners were “responsible” for the deputies’ actions through an official policy or custom of the county or the actions of a final county policymaker. In August 2015, the court ruled in IRLI’s favor and dismissed the alien’s Equal Protection claims, but allowed the plaintiff to amend her complaint regarding the Fourth Amendment claims. The case is currently pending.

Continued support to defeat the liability claims is important to encourage local law enforcement agencies around the nation, who are frequently backing away from any cooperation with ICE due to fears of potential liability for discrimination or unlawful arrest claims by illegal alien advocates.

See also:

IRLI Files Brief Seeking Dismissal of Lawsuit Against County Commissioners and Sheriff Brought by Illegal Alien, December 14, 2015

SCOTUSBlog lists Frederick County v Santos as Petition of the Day, March 12, 2014

Frederick County files Cert Petition Regarding Ability to Detain Illegal Aliens on Warrants, December 9, 2013

New IRLI Brief in Santos case: Local police can make administrative arrests of illegal aliens, April 10. 2012

Federal court: Police immigration check on Maryland pedestrian with consular ID card was not unlawful profiling, February 8, 2012

IRLI is a supporting organization of the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

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