A California woman who was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) despite having been a U.S. citizen for two decades, has won a settlement against the government, according to the Associated Press.
Guadalupe Plascencia, a 60-year-old from San Bernadino, California, will receive a $55,000 cash settlement from “the federal government and San Bernardino County.”
The settlement, obtained through the assistance of the American Civil Liberties Union, stemmed from a March 2017 incident in which the career hairstylist, was detained overnight by county authorities over a decades-old bench warrant issued for her alleged failure to appear as a witness in a court case.
The next day, after being released from the West Valley Detention Center, she was intercepted by ICE agents and taken into custody anew.
As the Los Angeles Times reported at the time, “Plascencia would spend the rest of the day in ICE custody, fearful that she would be deported despite having become an American citizen some 20 years ago, following an amnesty program initiated by President Reagan.” Plascencia ultimately won her release after her daughter arrived with a valid U.S. passport.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed notices of a claim that week, citing the fact that Plascencia had a California drivers licence as well as other paperwork proving her status as a legal citizen of the United States on her person at the time she was remanded into custody by county officials. Plascencia’s protestations were met with mockery by ICE agents, who held her in custody for an hour and a half.
Her wrongful arrest and detention likely stemmed from the agents’ reliance on ICE’s electronic records, which are widely known to be incomplete and full of errors. Still, ICE and collaborating local law enforcement agencies have used them to target people for arrest — relying even on the absence of records or on records pertaining to completely different individuals with similar but common Latino names, as they did in this case.
The settlement agreements require San Bernardino County to pay Plascencia $35,000; the federal government will be required to make restitution to the tune of $20,000.