Ramirez-Rangel, et al. v. Kitsap County, et al.

Ramirez-Rangel, et al. v. Kitsap County, et al., No. 12-2-09594-4 (Wash. Super. Ct., filed Jan. 31, 2012, decided Aug. 16, 2013)

Three individuals brought this lawsuit against Kitsap County and two Kitsap County deputy sheriffs for false arrest and violations of the Washington State Constitution.

Plaintiffs Samuel Ramirez Rangel, Leticia Gonzalez Santiago, and Jose Solis Leon were harvesting shellfish one February evening in 2010 when two Kitsap County deputy sheriffs noticed them speaking Spanish. The deputies waited for the group to exit the beach and followed their truck, eventually pulling them over to allegedly investigate a defective headlight and their shellfish licenses. Although the deputies resolved all issues relating to the headlight and shellfish, they prolonged the traffic stop to question the plaintiffs about their immigration status. The deputies proceeded to call U.S. Border Patrol to inform them they had stopped some individuals they suspected of having immigration issues, offering to detain them until Border Patrol could arrive. The deputies then called for additional law enforcement assistance and, after ordering the plaintiffs to sit in their truck, the officers kept the truck surrounded until Border Patrol agents arrived at the scene.

The court dismissed the false arrest claim but held that local law enforcement officers violate Article 1, Section 7 of the Washington State Constitution when they prolong a detention to question individuals about their immigration status, citizenship status, and/or country of origin. The court clarified that even when officers have reasonable suspicion or probable cause to seize someone for a legitimate reason unrelated to immigration enforcement, they are constitutionally forbidden from extending a detention to interrogate that detainee as to her or his immigration status once the officers have decided not to arrest that person for the original offense.

Press:

Counsel: Northwest Immigrant Rights Project | American Civil Liberties Union of Washington State | Stoel Rives LLP

Contact: Matt Adams | NWIRP | 206.957.8611 | matt@nwirp.org

Sanchez, et al. v. U.S. Office of Border Patrol, et al.

Sanchez, et al. v. U.S. Office of Border Patrol, et al. No. 12-00735 (W.D. Wash., filed Apr. 26, 2012)

In this class action, three U.S. citizen plaintiffs challenged U.S. Border Patrol’s practice of routinely stopping vehicles on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula and interrogating occupants about their immigration status based solely on the occupants’ racial and ethnic appearance, in violation of their constitutional rights. On behalf of themselves and others who have been subjected to similar stops, the plaintiffs asked the court to issue an injunction ordering Border Patrol to halt all such stops until its agents on the Peninsula have received training and demonstrated, through testing, that they understand the constitutional and other legal requirements necessary to stop and detain an individual.

In September 2013, the plaintiffs and Border Patrol reached a settlement in which Border Patrol acknowledged that its agents on the Olympic Peninsula must base vehicle stops away from the border on reasonable suspicion that an individual may be involved in violating the law.

All Port Angeles Border Patrol agents will be required to receive an additional training in Fourth Amendment protections, including those related to vehicle stops. The Fourth Amendment prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures and requires any warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause. In addition, for 18 months, Border Patrol will provide reports to plaintiffs’ attorneys documenting all stops in the Olympic Peninsula. Finally, Border Patrol also committed to complying with judicial decisions setting limits on stops and interrogations and to abiding by Department of Homeland Security guidance on the use of race or ethnicity in performing its duties.

Press:

Counsel: Northwest Immigrant Rights Project | American Civil Liberties Union of Washington State | Perkins Coie LLP

Contact: Matt Adams | NWIRP | 206.957.8611 | matt@nwirp.org