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$30,001 Jury Verdict Over Discriminatory ICE Notification Policy By Minnesota Jail

by Kevin Bliss

Myriam Parada was awarded $30,001 from the Minnesota District Court January 28, 2021 for false imprisonment in the Anoka County Jail. The county’s unwritten policy was to contact Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) whenever a foreign-born United States resident was booked into the jail. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) representing Parada stated that the policy was too broad, discriminating against non-citizens born outside the U.S. and excluding U.S. citizens born in foreign countries.

Parada was rear ended in a traffic accident July 25, 2017. A Coon Rapids police officer arrived at the scene of the accident to file a report. Upon discovering Parada was driving without a license, her only identification a Matricula Consular card provided by the Mexican consulate, she was charged with the misdemeanor and transported to the county jail at 7:20 p.m.

Police did not provide Parada a phone call until after 11 p.m. when police contacted ICE. They instructed Parada to ask ICE officials if she needed legal representation. She was told that the process would be expedited if she forwent representation. Parada was released to ICE officials on July 26 at 2:00 a.m.

ACLU Minnesota attorney Ian Bratlie filed suit against Anoka County Jail and Sheriff James Stuart on behalf of Parada. He stated that the arbitrary notification to ICE officials of only foreign-born non-citizens violated Parada’s Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection. The case took four days and the verdict came back in favor of Parada. The jury found that the initial arrest and ICE notification did not contribute to Parada’s suffering or cause actual injury. Therefore, she was only awarded $1.00 in nominal damages for this unconstitutional policy of the county jail.

Yet, the policy’s results, illegally detaining Parada until ICE officials picked her up some 30 hours later, did contribute to her suffering. The jury found the jail “intentionally restricted the physical liberty of Ms. Parada beyond the legally permissible time by words or acts.” The jury awarded Parada $30,000 for false imprisonment for this action.

Bratlie stated, “This verdict sends a powerful message that our jails are committing false imprisonment when they unlawfully hold people for ICE. We hope it gives jail officials incentive to respect the U.S. Constitution and the rights of people, regardless of where they are born.”

District Court Chief Judge John Tunheim ruled that the extended detention was a violation of Parada’s constitutional rights. He said the jail’s unwritten policy discriminated on the basis of natural origin. The policy furthered no government interest and ignored U.S. born non-citizens while collecting foreign born U.S. citizens in which ICE would have no interest.

Parada expressed her gratitude at ending this unconstitutional policy. “I’m so proud of being part of this lawsuit and getting rid of this policy,” she stated. “I didn’t want to see this happen to anyone else. I’m so thankful to everyone.” The Anoka County Sheriff’s Office could not be reached for comment on the verdict. See: Parada v. Anoka County, USDC, D MN, Case No. 0:18-cv-00795-JRT. 


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Related legal case

Parada v. Anoka County