Rony Chavez Aguilar, a U.S. citizen, is suing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency for allegedly arresting and holding him in jail for about three weeks because they didn't believe that he was in the country legally.
The Guatemala-born man, who became a U.S. citizen in 1999, was serving a two-week sentence in a Kentucky county jail on a drug charge before being transferred into the custody of the ICE Chicago field office, which covers Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri and Wisconsin.
According to his complaint, Aguilar was taken to an ICE-contracted facility in Boone County where immigrants facing deportation are held. He was there for 18 days, and was unable to see a lawyer or speak with a judge.
“He said, ‘Hey, I’m a citizen!’” Charles Roth, Aguilar’s attorney, told the Daily Beast. “And basically they said, ‘Tell it to the judge.’”
But, according to the suit, even that wasn’t possible for him.
“ICE Chicago did not obtain a judicial warrant to arrest Plaintiff; has not provided a sworn, particularized statement of probable cause; has not promptly brought him before a detached and neutral judicial officer for a probable cause hearing; or has not brought him before a judge to understand the charges against him and receive important advisals regarding his due process rights, among other procedural protections,” the complaint states.
According to the suit, Aguilar's plight isn't unique. “ICE Chicago detains thousands of people every year under similar circumstances,” it says. As such, Roth and Aguilar are hoping to get a class-action approved so that others who were similarly detained for weeks could join the legal battle.