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Lawsuit accuses sheriff of violating Trust Act, illegally detaining men for ICE

OREGON – The Ogle County sheriff is facing a lawsuit accusing him of unlawfully detaining two men until U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents could pick them up.

Marcio Hernandez Rodriguez and Artemio Castillo Arteaga, who are represented by lawyers from the ACLU, the National Immigrant Justice Center, and the Chicago office of Schiff Hardin, sued Sheriff Brian VanVickle, alleging he violated the Illinois Trust Act by falsely imprisoning them, and by abuse of process.

The Trust Act, which took effect in August 2017, prohibits police and other law enforcement officials from stopping, detaining, or arresting anyone based solely on their immigration status or an immigration detainer, which essentially keeps local authorities from being party to the enforcement of federal immigration laws.

It does not prevent those agencies from communicating with immigration authorities, and they can hold people if a criminal warrant has been issued.

The lawsuit, along with a similar suit in Stephenson County, is the first of its kind filed under the act.

According to the suit, each man was arrested for minor traffic violations and taken to the Ogle County Jail. After posting bond, instead of being released, each was held for federal immigration authorities.

According to the lawsuit:

Hernandez, 49, of Rockford, was driving home from work with six co-workers between 7 and 8 p.m. on Oct. 22, 2018, when he was pulled over in Byron.

A deputy approached the car and asked for identification from everyone. Hernandez handed him his Honduran passport and said he hadn’t been in the country long enough to establish residency for a driver’s license.

A Byron Police Department officer later took the passengers to a gas station and left them there.

The deputy told Hernandez that he was being arrested and cuffed him, but did not tell him the charge or read him his Miranda rights. At the jail, a different deputy took $500 from his wallet; he later learned that the money was used to post his bond for not having a valid license.

“After the bond was posted, the sheriff had no lawful grounds to continue to detain Mr. Hernandez,” the lawsuit states. “Nonetheless, the sheriff continued to hold him in Ogle County Jail for 3 days, until an ICE officer picked him up.”

Hernandez was in federal custody until Nov. 11, spent $850 in fees to get his vehicle back, and “lost approximately $3,000 in wages, incurred thousands of dollars of expenses, and suffered severe emotional distress,” the suit said.

Castillo, 42, of Ogle County, was driving home from work around 11 p.m. July 11 on state Route 38 when he was pulled over by a deputy who said he was speeding.

He handed the deputy his license but couldn’t find his insurance card, was told he was being arrested for expired license and no valid insurance, and was taken to jail. His license wasn’t expired, however, and he was not read his Miranda rights, the suit says.

Castillo posted $250 bond around 12:30 a.m. July 12, was told to sit and wait with his wife, who had met him at the jail. He was told to speak with an ICE official over the phone, then deputies then told him ICE was arresting him and would pick him up at the jail.

“All told, the sheriff unlawfully detained Mr. Castillo for approximately 6 or 7 hours after he posted bond and was entitled to release,” the lawsuit states. “As a result of defendant’s unlawful detention of him, Mr. Castillo suffered injuries including economic losses and severe emotional distress.”

The lawsuit asks the men be awarded monetary damages and that an injunction be issued prohibiting the sheriff from detaining any person who posts bond and is eligible for release when the hold is placed solely based on the person’s immigration status, on an immigration detainer or a nonjudicial immigration warrant.

The lawsuit states that the “sheriff has made a policy or practice of prolonging the detention of persons in his custody who are otherwise eligible for release solely on the basis of ICE detainers or nonjudicial immigration warrants, in violation of the Trust Act” and that he “instructed his deputies and employees to comply with immigration detainers” in violation of the act.

VanVickle could not be reached for comment Monday.

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