Immigration may be cracking down on minor crimes in order to deport people cops believeget the big fish. After being arrested for stealing a pair of socks from a Hillsboro store, a man says he was turned over to immigration officials and has now filed a federal lawsuit against Washington County, Northern Oregon Corrections and the United States.
Abel Tovar Hernandez accuses the federal government, the county and the state prison of false arrest and false imprisonment, as well as violations of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. Tovar, who was born in Mexico and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2000, was supposed to be released from jail on March 7, 2020, after being arrested for stealing socks from a TJ Maxx and serving a short sentence for a probation violation, the lawsuit alleges.
When he stepped out of the Washington County Jail, Tovar expected to find his mother waiting to pick him up, according to the suit. Instead, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents met him. They arrested him, threatened him with deportation and allegedly “mocked him” when he insisted he was a U.S. citizen, the suit said. They took him to the Northern Oregon Regional Correctional Facilities in the Dalles, where he ended up spending two days, causing him “anxiety, fearfulness, worry (and) depression,” before an attorney secured his release, the suit contends.
“What happened to Abel should not happen to anyone in this country — the United States Constitution explicitly forbids it,” Stoel Rives attorney Amy Edwards said in a statement. “It is past time for Washington County, ICE and NORCOR to be held accountable for illegally detaining people due to their officers’ assumptions based on a person’s family name and the color of their skin.”