US Citizen Wrongly Held by Immigration Gets Day in Court

A federal appeals court revived the lawsuit of a Brooklyn man, and US citizen, who was wrongly held in immigration detention for four days.

Luis Hernandez, 45, who was born in Brooklyn and is American, was arrested in 2013 on a misdemeanor charge of public lewdness. While being processed the same day in the New York city criminal court, the US Dept of Homeland Security lodged an immigration hold against him asserting he was subject of a removal order.

Hernandez, as a US citizen, could not have been subject of a removal order. When DHS realized its error it withdrew the hold, but meanwhile Hernandez had been in custody four days and was not released until the detainer was withdrawn.

The 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated Hernandez’s false arrest and false imprisonment claims against DHS but dismissed the city of New York for alleged due process violations and negligence.

“The complaint plausibly alleges that the government failed to conduct even a rudimentary inquiry into Hernandez’s citizenship or identity,” wrote Judge Denny Chin. “Indeed, Hernandez has alleged that his citizenship was readily ascertainable, and officers ‘may not disregard facts tending to dissipate probable cause.’”

DHS held him even though Hernandez did not have the same name or birth date of the man they claimed had a removal order. But DHS tried to blame the city for his long detention.

“The government cannot escape responsibility by shifting the blame to the city for keeping Hernandez in custody,” Chin wrote.

He was joined by Judge Richard Wesley and visiting Judge Lewis Kaplan of the federal New York trial court.

Case: Hernandez v. US, No. 18-1103

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