STUDIO CITY (CBSLA) — An undocumented immigrant in Northern California is suing Immigration and Customs Enforcement over what he claims was repeated physical abuse by agents trying to force him to become an informant under the threat of deportation.
Carlos Alfred Rueda Cruz of Sacramento filed a $750,000 lawsuit against ICE and the Dept. of Homeland Security for battery, assault and false imprisonment over the alleged beatings he received during check-ins with ICE agents last year, The Sacramento Bee reported.
“I’m speaking here today so the community knows of the abuses that go on with ICE,” the 28-year-old said outside a Sacramento courthouse Wednesday, a year to the day from his first alleged beating.
Rueda said that after being stopped by police on his way to his roofing gig in March 2017, he was not arrested but was instead placed under a supervision order and told to meet with immigration authorities once month.
Rueda claims the agents told him to “snitch” on undocumented persons “who had criminal convictions, or engaged in criminal activity such as driving under the influence,” or face deportation, the Bee reported.
“Every time I had to check in with ICE […] I would say goodbye to my family and commend (myself) to God’s will,” Rueda told the paper through an interpreter.
According to the lawsuit, on Sept. 26 of last year, Rueda was placed into custody during his monthly check-in and told to sign what he was told was a deportation order. After he refused to sign the papers, which were not in Spanish, without his lawyer present, Rueda claims two officers put on black gloves and twisted his hands behind his back. A third agent then allegedly slammed his head on a table, while a fourth tried to fingerprint him. Rueda said his screams cause the officers to stop. Rueda was subsequently sent to corrections facility in nearby Elk Grove.
He returned to the ICE offices in Sacramento where agents, some of whom he said assaulted him the day prior, again tried to force him to sign the documents. After refusing again, an officer slammed his head on the table and other agents jumped on him and kneed him in the ribs and sides, according to court documents. This time, Rueda claims, they got his fingerprint on the deportation order. Rueda also claims he was denied medical treatment after the beatings.
Rueda was sent back to detention and contacted a lawyer, who told the paper he had never seen the “snitch clause” included in an order of supervision. Attorney Luis Angel Reyes Savalza said Rueda’s was the first case he’d seen with a demand for an undocumented immigrant to become an informant, though he said it’s commonly used by other federal agencies.
Rueda’s deportation order was stayed because of his claim of “the false fingerprint.” He is seeking asylum.
Savalza told reporters his client has no criminal record, has been arrested, and has “never had any run-ins with law enforcement of any kind.”
An spokesman for ICE told the paper the agency could not comment on a pending lawsuit, but that “ICE does take seriously any allegation of misconduct.”