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DOJ gets delay in Marion County immigration case

July 17, 2017

An agreement that would have prevented the Marion County Sheriff’s Department from detaining immigrants for the U.S. government is on hold after a federal judge gave the U.S. Department of Justice time to consider whether it wants to intervene in the case.

The city of Indianapolis and the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana were waiting for Senior Judge Sarah Evans Barker of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana to approve their stipulated agreement. Instead, she granted a request on July 14 from the Justice Department, giving the federal office 21 days to review the settlement.

The agreement was part of a lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Indiana on behalf of Allen County resident Antonio Lopez-Aguilar. Although the civil liberties organization and the city disagree on how Lopez-Aguilar was taken into custody and how long he was detained, their stipulated agreement declares that seizing a defendant solely on the request from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement or on removal orders from an immigration court violate Fourth Amendment protections.

In its request to the court, the Department of Justice said such a stipulation may raise questions about the constitutionality of Acts of Congress. Specifically, the department noted, Congress allows the U.S. Attorney General to issue a warrant for the arrest and detention of an immigrant and to enlist help from any officer or employee of a state or local municipality in identifying, apprehending, detaining or removing any individuals who do not have legal residency.

The case is Antonio Lopez-Aguilar v. Marion County Sheriff’s Department, Sheriff John R. Layton and Sergeant Davis, 1:16-cv-2457.

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