On October 17, 2007, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico filed a civil rights suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on behalf of five Latino families in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico. ...
read more >
On October 17, 2007, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico filed a civil rights suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on behalf of five Latino families in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico. Plaintiffs alleged that the Sheriff's Department sanctioned an operation to locate, detain and arrest Latinos in an effort to apprehend undocumented immigrants.
As part of the operation, plaintiffs alleged that on September 10, 2007, sheriff's deputies raided homes of Latinos without search warrants and stopped, detained, and interrogated Latino motorists and Latinos walking on the street without probable cause or reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. Some Latinos that objected to the tactics were allegedly assaulted by deputies and issued bogus criminal charges in an attempt to cover the deputies' misconduct. Plaintiffs asserted violations of the Fourth Amendment, due process and equal protection as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, and corresponding provisions of the state constitution. They sought monetary damages and declaratory and injunctive relief to prevent further immigration raids by the Sheriff's Department.
On April 3, 2008, the parties entered into a settlement, which the court adopted on May 27, 2008, dismissing the case. Under the terms of the settlement, the Otero County Sheriff's Department agreed to a settlement of $100,000 and changes to its operational procedures. Under the agreement, deputies agreed not to inquire about a person's immigration status in minor cases and not to hold a person who is not under arrest for federal immigration officers. The department also agreed to accept the matricula consular (consulate-issued identification card) as a valid ID.Kristen Sagar - 06/08/2009