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Civil Rights

Maryland’s Frederick County to Pay $125k Discrimination Settlement to Salvadoran Woman

— January 27, 2021

The lawsuit claimed Frederick County Sheriff Charles Jenkins actively side-stepped federal law, forcing “suspicious” motorists to undergo immigration checks for even petty offenses.

A Salvadoran woman who filed a racial discrimination complaint against Maryland’s Frederick County and its sheriff will receive a six-figure settlement.

The agreement also includes a surprising written apology from Sheriff Charles Jenkins. In his letter, Jenkins—known locally as an immigration hardliner—said the deputies involved in the woman’s arrest had not received the proper training to carry out U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement warrants and deportation orders.

According to The Associated Press, the lawsuit was filed on behalf of Sara Haidee Aleman Medrano by the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland. In her complaint, Medrano claimed she had been illegally stopped and detained by a Frederick County deputy. Medrano said her arrest fit a broader pattern of local law enforcement arbitrarily harassing motorists of apparent Latin ancestry.

The Press further reports that Medrano—along with the advocacy group Resources for Immigrant Support and Empowerment of Western Maryland—filed suit against Frederick County, Sheriff Jenkins, and two individual deputies in July 2019.

Medrano alleged that Jenkins violated federal law almost every time he or his deputies arrested someone.

As part of a departmental policy, Jenkins purportedly mandated that detainees in county custody be subjected to immigration checks.

However, Jenkins’ department specifically seems to have targeted Latinos, or other people who could “appear” to have immigration issues.

Generic sheriff’s badge. Image via Flickr/user:Kim Siever. Public domain.

“These actions consist of unlawful detentions during traffic stops, violations of the Fourth Amendment, harassing of immigrants based on their race and ethnicity, and unequal treatment of people suspected to have immigration issues,” the lawsuit said.

Medrano’s suit recalls how she was pulled over for a “broken taillight” in July 2018. While Medrano, a ,decade.

After she was pulled over, Medrano requested a Spanish-speaking deputy—who, upon arrival, promptly began to about her legal status.

Medrano was kept on the side of the road for over an hour while the two Frederick County deputies unsuccessfully tried to summon an Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer to the scene.

Baltimore-CBS Local notes that Frederick County sheriff’s deputies have been “certified as immigration officers” under an ICE-led program. However, Medrano’s lawsuit notes that the program is not without constraints—deputies’ immigration-enforcement responsibilities “officially exist only within the detention center.”

But Jenkins, asserts the suit, tried to circumvent that stipulation by arresting any and all “suspicious” motorists, who would then by taken back to the county jail for an immigration check.

“There are real impacts on the Latinx community when the hateful rhetoric of Sheriff Jenkins translates to discriminatory policing and racial profiling,” attorney Nick Steiner said shortly after the complaint was filed. “Members of the Latinx community are fearful of any contact with law enforcement because of the common understanding that they will question individuals’ immigration status and seek to separate people from their families on that basis alone.”

In his apology, Jenkins admitted that Medrano had been held for unreasonable amount of time, and pledged his deputies will better trained so as to avoid “similar actions and circumstances.”

“Again,” Jenkins wrote, “you have my sincere apology for the events that occurred during that traffic stop and any fear that may have caused you.”

The settlement, adds The Associated Press, totals to $125,000—of which only $25,000 will go to Medrano. The rest will be taken as attorney fees and costs.


ACLU Settles Discrimination Lawsuit Against Frederick County’s Sheriff Over Immigration Enforcement

Lawsuit Accuses Frederick County Sheriff Of Racial Profiling

Settlement in racial bias case includes sheriff’s apology

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