Federal Judge Rejects Illegal-Alien Lawsuit Against County Sheriff

By Jessica M. Vaughan on February 11, 2012

A federal judge in Maryland this week dismissed a $1 million discrimination lawsuit brought by illegal alien Roxana Orellana Santos against Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins, the two deputies who arrested her, and the County Board. This is a big win for local law enforcement agencies that follow proper policing practices, even when they expose illegal aliens – in this case, one who was the subject of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) warrant. Unfortunately, thanks to the Obama administration's administrative amnesty, Ms. Santos gets to stay in the United States anyway.

As I reported back in 2009, the main goal of the lawsuit was to undermine support for the 287(g) program and to smear those sheriffs who assist ICE in enforcing immigration laws. In October 2008, Santos was eating a sandwich outside the market where she worked, when two sheriff's deputies happened to drive by on patrol. According to the deputies, she tried to hide from them, which naturally caused them to question her.

Santos spoke little English and had only a Salvadoran consular card for identification. The deputies ran her information through a routine criminal history check and found there was an ICE warrant for her arrest. As it turned out, she had ignored a prior order of deportation. After confirming that the warrant was still active, the sheriff's office detained her at the county jail until ICE took custody, which ICE would do back in those days, even though she wasn't a violent criminal.

Santos was represented by CASA of Maryland, an immigrant advocacy group with a budget of $6 million, about half of which comes from government appropriations (i.e. taxpayers) and Latino Justice PRLDEF, formerly known as the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund. They claimed that her civil rights were violated because she was subjected to an unlawful seizure, unlawful questioning based on ethnic bias, which was stoked in part by the sheriff's participation in the 287(g) program, and amounted to a "conspiracy" to deny her civil rights.

Judge Legg didn't buy any of it. His opinion is here.

This convincing judicial put-down, together with other recent federal court rulings, including one out of the 1st circuit in New England, which found that Rhode Island state troopers did not violate the rights of a group of illegal alien van passengers when it turned them over to ICE, will be helpful to all those local agencies that refuse to look the other way at potential immigration law violators they encounter in their daily routines. It also helps them establish the proper procedures their officers need to adhere to in order to avoid civil rights violations. Sheriff Jenkins was assisted in his defense by the Immigration Reform Law Institute, which also helped with the Rhode Island case.

Unfortunately, under the Obama administration policies, it ain't over 'til the alien wins. Last fall, ICE granted Santos a stay of deportation under the principles of "prosecutorial discretion", apparently because she has a U.S.-born child. Never mind the prior deportation order, or the illegal employment. Between ICE and CASA and the Maryland social welfare system, this woman is costing taxpayers a bundle, but at least she didn't score a $1 million lawsuit prize on top of it. Kudos to Sheriff Jenkins for holding his ground.