BALDWIN PARK (CBSLA.com/AP) — Immigrant-rights groups are suing the city of Baldwin Park after its Police Department jailed a 30-year-old man suspected of entering the U.S. illegally.
The suit, filed Wednesday in Los Angeles, alleges that Baldwin Park police violated state law when they stopped Sergio Flores for driving without a license in April and then held him in jail for several days until federal agents could take him to a detention center.
He's now facing possible deportation to his native El Salvador. He's spent nine years in the United States.
The suit says police violated the California TRUST Act, which took effect this year. It directs law enforcement to quickly release those without serious criminal records rather than hold them so federal officials can take them into custody for deportation proceedings.
"I was driving to my work and the police officer pulled me over for no reason," said Flores, who said he told the officer he had no license on him but that he had insurance for the car he was driving with paper tags.
The officer allegedly told him that he only needed 15 minutes to check Flores' documents.
The plaintiff's attorneys, who work with the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund, said that 15-minute check turned into four days in custody.
"Sergio Flores was detained by Baldwin Park police officers from March 7th to 10th on the sole basis of an immigration detainer," MALDEF staff attorney Matthew Barragan said. "Mr. Flores' detention was in a direct violation of the TRUST Act and not supported by lawful authority."
"Sergio is here today to hold the Police Department accountable for the unlawful imprisonment that he experienced. He's here to make sure that doesn't happen to other families."
A call to the Baldwin Park city attorney seeking comment wasn't immediately returned.
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