SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) —The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the Sacramento County sheriff for allegedly illegally working with immigration agents to keep people detained.
According to the lawsuit, a former inmate at the Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center was apprehended by immigration agents as soon as he was released. The ACLU said Sheriff Scott Jones broke the law if he did work with immigration.
“He was in Sacramento Sheriff’s custody for a short time in 2018,” Northern California ACLU attorney Sean Riordan said.
Riordan is referring to Misael Echeveste. who said he was serving time at the RCCC for misdemeanor assault and battery after getting into a fight in his neighborhood.
“Our strong feeling is that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and was actually trying to pull people away in the middle of this fight,” Riordan said.
Echeveste spent six weeks serving his time. Just as he was ready to return home, he was transferred to ICE custody for an additional month and a half.
“He served his time based on a misdemeanor charge and he was ready to go home to his family and his community,” Riordan said.
The ACLU filed the lawsuit saying Jones failed to follow state law, as explained in Senate Bill 54 and Assembly Bill 2792. In this case, Riordan said Echeveste was never supposed to be transferred to ICE.
He said emails from inside the jail show staff trying to figure out how ICE agents can detain inmates.
“They are essentially playing word games about whether releasing somebody inside the gates of the jail or outside the gates of the jail constitutes a transfer under state law,” Riordan said.
Criminal attorney Jennifer Mouzis told FOX40 law enforcement agencies are only allowed to transfer someone into ICE custody under specific circumstances under California law.
“That person needs to have committed a really serious offense,” Mouzis explained. “Breaking into your house, rape, serious assaults, uses of firearms against people.”
But with Echeveste’s case, Mouzis said Jones acted unlawfully.
“The sheriff will have to recognize that he cannot continue to violate these laws,” Riordan said.
A spokesperson for the sheriff’s office told FOX40 they will not comment on pending litigation.