Settlement reached in lawsuit regarding unlawful detention of immigrants

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office has settled a 2008 lawsuit in which the office was accused of unlawful detaining individuals suspected of being illegal immigrants, the Press Democrat reports.

A settlement was reached between the California county and plaintiffs who alleged that the sheriff’s department and federal authorities had detained two men in 2006 and 2007 but never charged them with any crime or violation of state law. Civil rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Committee for Immigrant Rights of Sonoma County, served as two of the plaintiffs in the case.

As part of the settlement, the sheriff’s office must only proceed with collaborations with federal operations or programs if federal authorities agree not to solely use immigration violations or minor traffic issues to arrest otherwise law-abiding unauthorized immigrants.

“We are not going to be using our resources to look at people whose only crime is being here illegally,” Sheriff Steve Freitas told the news source.

The only financial exchange involved in the settlement was $8,000 awarded to the two men who were detained.

US Immigration Support estimates that 3 million illegal immigrants can be found in California, approximately 25 percent of the total population of unauthorized immigrants in the country.