The ACLU sues the Ascension Parish Sheriff, accusing the department of detaining a US Citizen for four days for immigration review because he was Hispanic.

Legal Director Katie Schwartzmann says the office has a policy of unconstitutionally detaining Hispanic or Hispanic appearing people for immigration review by ICE, regardless of their citizenship status.

“We think the Sheriff’s Office just unilaterally decided to detain him and run his name, or somehow do a background check on him simply because he appeared to be Latino or Hispanic.

In August of 2018 Ramon Torres was arrested on a DUI charge. Schwartzmann says Ascension court policy dictates he be released the morning immediately after.

Schwartzmann says Torres owned a home and worked in Baton Rouge and had several items on him at the time of his arrest that demonstrated his citizenship. “When he was arrested, he had his driver’s license on him, he had his TWIC card on him, he had all sorts of security clearance paperwork because this is a man who works in Baton Rouge industry.”

Torres says his co-workers and employer later sent additional documentation including a birth certificate, but the office continued to detain him.

The complaint is seeking an end to the office’s policy and that the court provide punitive damages to Mr. Torres. It also alleges that this is not just a onetime incident. “Mr. Torres was told by some of the other men that he saw when he was booked into the jail that they have been sitting back there for much lengthier periods of time awaiting, quote un-quote, ICE review,” said Schwartzmann.

Sheriff Bobby Webre responded to the suit, saying “I dispute these press claims by ACLU lawyers and will offer a rigorous defense in court.”

You can read the full complaint here.

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