Canyon County Jail

Inmates are escorted back to their cell by an officer on Nov. 8, 2017, at the Canyon County jail in Caldwell.

CALDWELL — A third lawsuit filed against Canyon County claims an inmate was unlawfully detained at the jail because of a hold that Immigration and Customs Enforcement placed on him.

A lawsuit was filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Idaho that states Ramon Espinoza-Rodriguez was unlawfully detained at the jail in 2017 because of an immigration hold, even after his bond was paid. Espinoza-Rodriguez was arrested May 27, 2017, on a 2011 warrant for misdemeanor using a telephone to annoy, harass, intimidate or threaten. The charge was later dismissed.

According to the lawsuit, Espinoza-Rodriguez was issued a $1,000 bond for the charge. His daughter went to pay the bond the same day of his arrest. A bail bondsman reportedly told the daughter that “there was no bond that could be paid due to a hold issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.”

The detainer, also called an immigration hold, requests the jail keep him in custody for a period not to exceed 48 hours beyond the time he was to have been released. All detainers work this way, which gives ICE agents time to decide whether the person will be taken into federal custody, according to the American Civil Liberties Union website.

On May 31, 2017, Espinoza-Rodriguez’s daughter returned to the jail and paid the $1,000 bond, which was accepted, according to the lawsuit. A Canyon County official told a family member “that it was up to immigration officials whether (Espinoza-Rodriguez) would be released,” the lawsuit claims.

The family reportedly waited all day for his release.

Espinoza-Rodriguez was not released from the jail until 12:06 p.m. on June 1, 2017, according to the lawsuit. Two hours prior, Benjamin Stein, one of two attorneys with Immigrant Justice Idaho in Boise representing Espinoza-Rodriguez, sent a letter to the jail saying detaining inmates because of an ICE request was unlawful; in the letter, Stein demanded his client’s release from jail.

The lawsuit also claims that the county “has a policy, practice or custom of detaining inmates solely due to a suspicion of the inmate’s immigration status” and that the practice is so “widespread” that third parties, such as “local bail bond companies,” know of the practice.

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Espinoza-Rodriguez, who is from Mexico but has lived in Idaho since 1991, claims damages for mental suffering, emotional distress, humiliation and loss of liberty, for an amount to be determined at a trial.

Canyon County declined comment due to the pending litigation.

This is the third such lawsuit filed against the county. In January 2018, the Idaho Press reported on two separate instances of men claiming they were unlawfully held in the county jail because of ICE holds.

Senobio Padilla-Arredondo filed a lawsuit in January 2018 claiming the jail stopped him from posting bond based on suspicions about his immigration status. Gustavo Carrera-Garcia filed a lawsuit later in January 2018, claiming he was unlawfully held and detained because of his immigration status and despite a judge’s release order.

Padilla-Arredondo's case is ongoing. A settlement was reached in Carrera-Garcia's case following a mutual agreement, but Maria Andrade with Immigrant Justice Idaho declined to comment on the settlement amount.

"We're hopeful the lawsuits can stop, and counties can see this would be beneficial for all Idahoans to take a hard look at what their policies are and make sure nobody is subject to unlawful arrests under Idaho law," Andrade told the Idaho Press Tuesday.

Under the agreement established more than 30 years ago, ICE pays Canyon County for the temporary housing of federal immigration detainees. In an updated contract signed in October, ICE reimburses the jail $77 per detainee per night, up from the previous $54 rate.

This story was updated at 8:20 a.m. May 29 to reflect that the complaint was filed by Immigrant Justice Idaho, which attorneys Stein and Andrade are employed by. 

Emily Lowe is the Canyon County public safety reporter. Follow @EmLoweJourno on Twitter

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