U.S. District Judge Kathleen M. Williams. Photo: J. Albert Diaz

A federal judge in Florida has issued an order allowing a civil rights lawsuit against Miami-Dade County to proceed.

U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams ruled that Miami-Dade County’s policy of cooperation with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency may have violated Garland Creedle’s Fourth Amendment protections from unlawful search and seizure. Creedle’s suit alleges he was unlawfully detained by Miami-Dade police because of an ICE-issued detainer request.

The defendants named in Creedle’s complaint — including Miami-Dade County, the Department of Homeland Security and ICE — all filed motions to dismiss the suit. Although Williams granted them in part, the judge ultimately ordered all three parties to respond to the plaintiff’s suit within 14 days.

Read the order: 

According to the judge’s ruling, Creedle, a U.S. citizen from birth, was arrested March 12, 2017, “after an alleged domestic dispute and taken to the Miami-Dade County jail.” Although no charges were filed relating to his arrest, Creedle was forced to remain in police custody after posting bond due to the filing of an ICE detainer request against him.

Creedle was released on March 14, 2017, following an interview with ICE officials.

The March 2017 incident was not Creedle’s first encounter with ICE. Williams’ order recounts that when he first arrived in the U.S. from Honduras in 2015, he was apprehended by ICE and had removal proceedings initiated against him. Said proceedings were terminated after an immigration judge granted a motion filed by the Department of Homeland Security noted that Creedle was a U.S. citizen.

The judge added, “It is not clear from the amended complaint or the Parties’ briefing why removal proceedings were initiated against a U.S. citizen.”

Regarding Creedle’s most recent brush with ICE, Williams wrote that the plaintiff’s complaint ”plausibly alleged that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated when the county arrested him pursuant to a detainer, because the county was not authorized under either state or federal law to effectuate an arrest without a warrant or probable cause that he had committed a crime.”

The ACLU of Florida — who filed suit on Creedle’s behalf, alongside the University of Miami School of Law’s Immigration Clinic and Miami-based Kurzban Kurzban Weinger Tetzeli & Pratt  — said in a statement that county jail officials’ failure to release the plaintiff after he had posted bond “constitutes a re-arrest.”

“Miami-Dade County’s policy of blindly agreeing to all ICE detainer requests is unconstitutional,” said ACLU of Florida staff attorney Amien Kacou in statement by the organization. “When local law enforcement fulfills warrantless ICE detainer requests, they violate the trust of the communities they are supposed to protect. The county should not be allowed to escape legal responsibility for turning its back on its community and supercharging the Trump administration’s reckless anti-immigrant machine.”

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