Garden Grove Resident Improperly Held by Orange County Sheriff’s Department Files Suit


IRVINE, Calif. (August 25, 2020) — The University of California, Irvine School of Law (UCI Law) Immigrant Rights Clinic filed suit on behalf of Kelvin Hernandez Román over his detention by Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD) deputies in July 2019 in order to facilitate his arrest by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The suit alleges that, by holding Mr. Hernandez Román, deputies violated state and federal law. It seeks compensation for the harm done to him as well as an end to OCSD’s practices. This is the latest in a series of efforts by advocates to hold OCSD and Sheriff Don Barnes accountable for their decision to prioritize OCSD’s entanglement with ICE over the protection of the immigrant community.

Last year, Mr. Hernandez Román, a resident of Garden Grove and father of three young children, was stopped while driving by the Tustin Police Department. He was taken to Theo Lacy Jail, which is run by OCSD. No charges were filed against him at that time, but the OCSD continued to detain Mr. Hernandez Román while they waited for ICE to come pick him up.

As a result of OCSD’s unlawful actions, Mr. Hernandez Román spent nine months in ICE custody, separated from his wife and children. “Those months were some of the most difficult times in my life,” said Hernandez Román about his time in ICE custody. “I missed the birth of my youngest child. I couldn’t be there for my wife or my older children.”

While Mr. Hernandez Román was detained at the Adelanto ICE Detention Facility, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. He suffers from severe asthma and feared for his health and his life at Adelanto. Advocates have warned that the OSCD’s practice of continuing to transfer community members to ICE custody during this time is putting all of us at risk. “Many in the immigrant community are essential workers,” said Ana Ramirez of the Orange County Rapid Response Network (OCRRN). “As detailed in our State of OC Report, Orange County has resisted state law and sided against our community in the past. But now the stakes are even higher.”

The complaint filed yesterday alleges that Mr. Hernandez Román’s extended detention by OCSD deputies violated his rights under the California Values Act, which prohibits state and local law enforcement agencies from holding any individuals in their custody beyond the time they are otherwise scheduled for release to comply with an ICE detainer, as well as his federal constitutional rights.

“The California Values Act sought to build trust between immigrant communities and local law enforcement, recognizing the valuable role immigrants play in California communities,” said Mónica Ramírez Almadani, a visiting professor with and co-director of the UCI Law Immigrant Rights Clinic. “We are disappointed about what happened to Mr. Hernandez Román and hope no other Orange County resident will have to experience what he did again.”

Third-year UCI Law student Anna Hales also worked on the complaint.

About the University of California, Irvine School of Law

The University of California, Irvine School of Law is a visionary law school that provides an innovative and comprehensive curriculum, prioritizes public service, and demonstrates a commitment to diversity within the legal profession. UCI Law students have completed more than 100,000 hours of pro bono work in the past decade. Forty-eight percent of UCI Law’s graduates are students of color. At UCI Law, we are driven to improve our local, national, and global communities by grappling with important issues as scholars, as practitioners, and as teachers who are preparing the next generation of leaders. The collaborative and interdisciplinary community at UCI Law includes extraordinary students, world-renowned faculty, dedicated staff, engaged alumni, and enthusiastic supporters. More information on UCI Law is available here. Please follow us on Twitter and Instagram @ucilaw.

Media Contact:

Mojgan Sherkat