Stephenson, Ogle County Sheriff’s sued over alleged TRUST Act violations

CHICAGO (WREX) — The ACLU of Illinois and other advocacy groups have sued the Stephenson County Sheriff’s Office and the Ogle County Sheriff’s Office for alleged violations of the TRUST Act.

The TRUST Act prohibits law enforcement from holding or detaining a person based on an administrative hold of “detainer” issued by immigration authorities unless presented with a signed judicial warrant.

In the two separate lawsuits, the agencies are accused of stopping and arresting men for minor traffic infractions.

The lawsuits allege the sheriff’s office continued to detain them, even after they had posted bond, until federal immigration authorities came to pick them up.

“The police in Illinois do not work for ICE. People should not be detained because of how they look, what they believe or what paperwork they may or may not have,” Senate President John Cullerton said in a news release for the ACLU of Illinois.

In Ogle County, Hernandez Rodriguez of Rockford and Artemio Castillo Arteaga of Ogle County have filed the lawsuit against Sheriff Brian VanVickle, who is listed as the defendant.

Marcio Hernandez Rodriguez — Arrested on Oct. 22, 2018 — Ogle County

The lawsuit says, “Mr. Hernandez and Mr. Castillo live quiet and productive lives, working to support their families in Northern Illinois. The Defendant and those acting at his direction turned the lives of these Illinoisans — and those of their families — upside down when they unlawfully detained the Plaintiffs for federal immigration officials following arrests for minor traffic offenses.

The lawsuit says Hernandez Rodriguez was driving home from work one evening when he was pulled over by a sheriff’s deputy. Hernandez Rodriguez did not have a driver’s license because he had not been in Illinois long enough to establish residency, so he handed the deputy his Honduran passport.

The lawsuit goes on to say the deputy brought Hernandez Rodriguez to his patrol car, told him he was being arrested, and put him in handcuffs. The lawsuit says he did not tell Hernandez the charge, nor did he read him his Miranda rights.

Once in custody, the lawsuit says a deputy took $500 out of Hernandez’s wallet, which was later used to post bond. Hernandez Rodriguez remained in custody for three more days until an ICE officer picked him up and drove him to a jail near Peoria, where he was held for two days.

“There, Mr. Hernandez was told that although he had not committed a crime, he was being held because he was in the United State illegally.”

Hernandez Rodriguez was taken in to custody on Oct. 22, but was not released from ICE custody until Nov. 11.

“Mr. Hernandez lost approximately $3,000 in wages, incurred thousands of dollars of expenses, and suffered severe emotional distress because of the Sheriff’s unlawful detention of him,” the lawsuit says.

“It was frightening to be in the Ogle County Jail for days, knowing that ICE was coming to pick me up. Now I know that it was also illegal. No on should have to go through something like this. That is why I am part of this lawsuit,” he said.

Artemio Castillo Arteaga — Arrested July 19, 2018 — Ogle County

The lawsuit says Artemio Castillo Arteaga was driving home from work on July 11, 2018 along Highway 38 when an Ogle County Sheriff’s deputy stopped him. The deputy said Castillo was driving 70 in a 55 zone, although Castillo says he was driving the speed limit and his old truck would not go above 60 mph.

The deputy asked for Castillo’s driver’s license and insurance. Castillo handed over his ID, but could not find his insurance card in the dark car, the lawsuit says.

“The deputy told Mr. Castillo that he was under arrest for driving without insurance and on an expired license, even though Mr. Castillo’s license had not expired. The deputy did not read Mr. Castillo his Miranda rights,” the lawsuit alleges.

Castillo’s wife met him at the jail and he paid his bond. The lawsuit said he was asked to stay at the jail.

“After about 15 minutes, a deputy behind the desk told Mr. Castillo that he had a call from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). When Mr. Castillo asked why ICE had been contacted, he and another deputy looked at each other and smiled. One of the deputies said they were just doing their job,” the lawsuit says.

Pedro Tlapa Castillo — Arrested Jan. 1, 2019 — Stephenson County

In Stephenson County, Pedro Tlapa Castillo has filed a lawsuit against Sheriff David Snyders, who is listed as a defendant.

A separate lawsuit says Pedro Tlapa Castillo was driving home from his job in Freeport after a recent snow on Jan. 1, 2019. As Tlapa approached a stop sign at the bottom of a small hill, he realized he would not be able to stop, applied his brakes and skidded past the stop sign.

The lawsuit says a Stephenson County Sheriff’s squad car carrying two deputies pulled him over. A deputy asked him why he did not stop. The lawsuit says the deputy only spoke English, while Tlapa spoke Spanish.

The deputies asked Tlapa for his licence and insurance. He could not provide a license, but did hand over his insurance card. Deputies told him his insurance was expired, although the lawsuit maintains it was not.

Deputies took Tlapa to the jail and booked him. He paid his $150 bond, but was taken back to a holding cell and was told he had to wait another hour.

Later, an ICE officer called Tlapa and told him that ICE would be coming to pick him up.

“Mr. Tlapa remained in the Stephenson County Jail until an ICE official picked him up the following day, January 2, 2019, at approximately noon. The Defendant unlawfully detained Mr. Tlapa for approximately 24 hours after he posted bond and was entitled to release,” the lawsuit says.

Responses from the Stephenson and Ogle County Sheriff’s Offices:

The lawsuits are part of an effort announced Thursday to monitor law enforcement compliance of the 2017 law prohibiting local police from holding a person on an immigration detainer unless there’s a judge-signed warrant.

Sheriff Brian VanVickle with the Ogle County Sheriff’s Office says his office has received notice of the pending lawsuit and are currently reviewing all options with legal counsel.  Sheriff David Snyders says he can not comment ongoing litigation. His attorney, however, says based on review of allegations that county employees complied with state and federal laws.

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