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Las Vegas police face lawsuit over federal immigration holds

A lawsuit filed last week against Las Vegas police asks the courts to end the practice of local police agencies holding people on federal immigration detainers that often lead to deportation from the United States.

The plaintiff, 36-year-old David Adame-Reyes, sits in the Nye County Detention Center. An Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer is the only thing keeping him behind bars, according to the lawsuit. His lawyers say he has lived in the U.S. for more than a decade.

His federal lawsuit claims the Metropolitan Police Department violated his constitutional right to due process and right against unreasonable search and seizure on two occasions by granting ICE’s requests to keep him detained even after his low-level charges were dropped.

Metro declined to comment for this story. A spokesman said the agency does not comment on matters involving pending litigation.

When someone is arrested, ICE can request in writing that the arresting agency keep the person jailed so agents have more time to figure out whether the person needs to be taken into federal custody for possible immigration violations. The lawsuit challenges the legitimacy of such a request, saying a detainer is not a warrant backed by probable cause.

Adame-Reyes’ lawyers characterize this local-federal partnership as an “entanglement” that has sown generational distrust between immigrant communities and the local agencies who police them on a daily basis.

Metro first arrested Adame-Reyes in August 2018 on a charge that was soon dropped, but he was held at the Henderson Detention Center after ICE issued a detainer. His family paid to bail him out months later, according to the lawsuit.

But a year later, Las Vegas police arrested him again, for what the complaint describes as a low-level charge. According to the lawsuit, his charge was again dropped, but he remained incarcerated by Las Vegas police on another ICE detainer.

The department and Sheriff Joe Lombardo are named in the suit. In October, Lombardo announced to the public his agency would no longer grant requests for detainers in the partnership with ICE.

Though Adame-Reyes was last arrested before the October announcement, his attorneys say the agency should be held accountable for years of honoring ICE detainer requests.

“Unfortunately, for immigrants and their families in Clark County, there’s a history of learning not to trust LVMPD,” his attorneys wrote in a statement to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “Knowing that LVMPD can no longer detain for ICE helps to build the necessary trust between both LVMPD and the immigrant community.”

Adame-Reyes is represented by Las Vegas law firm Holland and Hart, the National Immigration Law Center in Los Angeles, and attorneys with the California-based Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe firm.

The attorneys go on to say Lombardo’s October announcement does not go far enough to address the underlying damage caused by years of detaining people at the request of ICE.

“To the extent the policy really has changed, we are grateful for and applaud the work of so many in the community who pushed for change and sought to make the Clark County community safer for all its members,” they wrote, “but unfortunately, the begrudging change announced this past fall did nothing to acknowledge and account for the years of harm visited upon so many in the community.”

Contact Dalton LaFerney at dlaferney@reviewjournal.com or at 702-383-0288. Follow @daltonlaferney on Twitter.

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