One day in summer 2017, Myriam Parada was driving a carload of kids home after a birthday party for her younger sister.
Parada's passengers included that sister and other siblings, plus a couple cousins. Parada, then 20 years old, was driving in Coon Rapids when the vehicle was rear-ended by a 24-year-old white woman.
According to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the woman who hit Parada's car had racked up a dozen traffic-related convictions in the previous five years, including driving while intoxicated and speeding. That driver called 911, and officer Nicolas Oman of the Coon Rapids Police Department soon arrived on the scene.
Oman let the woman responsible for the accident go, and was "instead...more interested in [Parada]," and her failure to produce a driver's license, according to the lawsuit. Parada gave Oman a Mexican Consular (or Matricula Consular) card, an official ID she'd obtained from the Mexican consulate in St. Paul.
Parada, a resident of Ramsey, Minnesota, has "lived in the United States for several years," according to the lawsuit, and entered the country legally when she was a child.
Parada's Mexican Consular card was unconvincing for the Coon Rapids cop, who would later write in a police report that he arrested her and took her to Anoka County Jail because he was "unable to positively identify her." This, despite the ID card listing Parada's name, address, date of birth, and photo.
The ACLU's civil complaint asserts the same officer had cited six other drivers for operating a vehicle without a license in the 12 months before this incident, and that not one of those drivers was placed under arrest.
Parada was booked into jail, her mugshot and fingerprint taken. The ACLU claims she was cleared to leave jail that same day but was held "based on her nationality and suspected immigration status." Later that night, Parada was twice removed from the jail cell and taken to speak with an "unidentified older male Anoka County staff member." The first time, the staffer questioned Parada himself, according to the lawsuit.
On the second and third occasions, he instructed Parada to speak with agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), who asked if she was an American citizen. Parada asked if she needed a lawyer, her lawsuit says, and was told by an ICE official that "it goes faster without a lawyer."
Sometime after 2 a.m. the following morning, Parada was removed from her cell, handcuffed by ICE agents, and transported to Sherburne County Jail. Her family later paid to get her released on immigration bond, but she now faces a deportation proceeding -- all because another driver hit her car while she drove relatives home from a family birthday party.
The ACLU's suit names as its defendants the Coon Rapids Police Department, for its role in Parada's arrest, and the Anoka County Sheriff's Office, for detaining her after she was due to be released. (The ACLU says an email from an Anoka County Sheriff's Liutenant proves Parada was kept in jail after she was free to go.)
Parada was only held out of an "organizational animus toward immigrants," the lawsuit alleges, adding her situation is "well known and a cause of great concern in the immigration community."
Anoka officials "illegally deprived [Parada] of her liberty by refusing to release her until after ICE officials could come and take her," the lawsuit states, despite the ACLU repeatedly communicating to every sheriff's office in Minnesota that they are prohibited from detaining people without probable cause aside from immigration status.
The ACLU suit says law enforcement violated Parada's rights under the Fourth Amendment (protecting against unlawful "search and seizure") and 14th Amendment (due process of law).
Through seven counts of violations cited in her civil complaint, Parada is seeking upward of $375,000 in damages, plus injunctive release for herself and others, preventing the law enforcement agencies from "wrongfully detaining and imprisoning persons based upon their nationality or suspected immigration status."
Parada's lawsuit was filed Thursday, March 22, in U.S. District Court. Read the civil complaint here.
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