Chicago - Jul. 19, 2017
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Chicago Family Sues ICE & City Over Raid, Gang Database

The Chicago Police Department's sharing of its so-called "Gang Database" with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) triggered a nightmarish chain of events that left Wilmer Catalan-Ramirez imprisoned, in severe physical pain and mental anguish, and fighting deportation, according to a federal civil rights lawsuit filed on Monday.

Catalan-Ramirez is a devoted father and a mechanic who has never belonged to a Chicago street gang. Despite this fact, CPD mistakenly labeled him as a gang member and conveyed this false information to ICE. ICE relied on this erroneous information during one of its March 2017 "Gang Ops" during which ICE targeted community members who have alleged gang ties.

In January 2017, in his Back of the Yards neighborhood, Catalan-Ramirez was a bystander during a drive-by shooting that left him with multiple gunshot wounds. These injuries left him with fractures to his skull and shoulder, a traumatic brain injury and partial paralysis. Catalan-Ramirez has spent the months since the shooting in rehabilitation with the assistance of his wife Celene Adame.

On March 27, around six ICE agents entered Catalan-Ramirez's family's apartment without a warrant, slammed him to the floor and handcuffed him - aggravating his preexisting injuries, according to the suit filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

"I saw the immigration agents slam my husband to the floor while we told them he was injured, but they still hurt him and took him to detention," said Adame. "There needs to be consequences for everyone responsible for hurting our family, for my husband, and so that it doesn't happen to others."

The suit alleges violations of unreasonable search and seizure, and due process protections in the U.S. Constitution. The suit also alleges that the manner in which CPD gathers and disseminates false information about gang membership violated the Illinois Civil Rights Act, which prohibits racial and ethnic discrimination.

In addition to CPD and ICE agents, defendants include the City of Chicago; Ricardo Wong, ICE's Chicago Field Office Director; McHenry County; and several officials working at the McHenry County Jail, which contracts with ICE to imprison immigration detainees awaiting resolution of their cases.

While in the McHenry County Jail, Catalan-Ramirez has been denied needed medical care for his injuries and spends most of his day isolated in a cell. Because of the lack of medical care, he risks living for the rest of his life with partial paralysis.

Catalan-Ramirez is represented by the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild and is supported by Organized Communities Against Deportations (OCAD) and Mijente, two organizations that organize against harsh immigration enforcement tactics, and who have been advocating for an expansion of Chicago's "Sanctuary" status by removing the gang database, amongst other reforms.

"Wilmer's case is an example of how local city policies, such as the Gang Database, put immigrant communities in the path of Trump's deportation machine," said Xanat Sobrevilla, organizer with OCAD. "If the City of Chicago truly wants to be a sanctuary city where immigrants can seek safe refuge, it should stop sharing its Gang Database with ICE and inform ICE the database is rife with inaccuracies and is not a legitimate law enforcement tool."

"Wilmer Catalan-Ramirez's rights have been trampled on and his physical and mental well-being is in danger because of conditions in the ICE-approved detention facility where he is now held," said Vanessa del Valle, an attorney with the MacArthur Justice Center and clinical assistant professor of law at Northwestern. "ICE exacerbated his pre-existing injuries; traumatized him, his wife and children; and left him with severe injuries that could last a lifetime. Now, his condition worsens with each passing day."

"The past 100 days of the Trump Administration have meant mass raids and deportations for immigrant communities across the country," said Sejal Zota, legal director of the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild.

"The injuries suffered by Mr. Wilmer Catalan-Ramirez exemplify the extreme level of ICE abuse in raids carried out by this Administration. Mr. Wilmer Catalan-Ramirez is a long-time resident of Chicago, beloved father of young U.S. Citizen children, and recent gunshot victim with severe medical complications. It is clear that he belongs back with his family and community in Chicago where he can receive critical medical care. These rogue ICE raids must cease."

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Previously:

* Immigration Raids Send Chill Through Little Village.

* This Is What A Deportation Raid Is Like.

* Illinois Immigrant, Labor, Legal Leaders Condemn ICE Raids.

* Chicago Activists Tell Undocumented Immigrants Not To Open Their Doors.

* A Shameful Round-Up Of Refugees.

* U.S. Government Deporting Central American Migrants To Their Deaths.

* Tell President Obama To Stop Deporting Refugees.

* Immigrants Arrested In U.S. Raids Say They Were Misled On Right To Counsel.

* Obama Planning Huge Deportation Sweep Of Immigrant Families.

* Immigrants Deported Under Obama Share Stories Of Terror And Rights Violations.

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Comments welcome.



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