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Daly City Ends ICE Collaboration in California Value Acts (SB 54) Settlement

December 20, 2021 News

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Daly City Ends ICE Collaboration in California Value Acts (SB 54) Settlement

DALY CITY, Calif. — Just weeks after San Mateo County residents persuaded county officials to end their collaboration with the U.S. Immigrant and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Armando Escobar-Lopez and Daly City reached a groundbreaking settlement following his transfer to ICE custody two years ago. As part of the settlement, Daly City will pay Mr. Escobar-Lopez damages, support his U-visa application, and change the city’s policy to prohibit entanglement with ICE.

On May 11, 2019, Mr. Escobar-Lopez, his partner, and his partner’s brother were driving home when Daly City police stopped them. Daly City police then notified ICE, detained Mr. Escobar-Lopez at the local police station, and facilitated his transfer to the federal agency.

“As a result of the arrest, I was detained in ICE custody for almost three months, separated from my family and home. My detention caused significant trauma and anxiety for me and my family, and we lost all financial security. This could happen to anyone in our community, and I am glad Daly City will no longer turn my family, friends, neighbors, and any other city resident over to ICE,” said Armando Escobar-Lopez.

In March 2020, Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus and Latham & Watkins LLP filed a lawsuit on Mr. Escobar-Lopez’s behalf, charging that Daly City violated the California Values Act (SB 54). Passed in 2018, SB 54 is a California state law that restricts local law enforcement agencies from using their resources to identify, detain, arrest, or transfer immigrants to ICE or U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

“Mr. Escobar-Lopez’s case affirms the rights of all immigrants in Daly City and upholds Californians’ values of equality and belonging. Immigrants should not live in fear that local law enforcement will collaborate with ICE to detain, deport, and separate them from their families. This case is part of the movement to end all local and state collaboration with ICE and to stop ICE transfers statewide,” said Melanie Kim, Criminal Justice Reform staff attorney at Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus.

Daly City has made significant, positive changes to its policy that protect the due process and constitutional rights of its immigrant and refugee communities, and has shown a commitment to protect others from the same harm. Daly City’s new policy makes sure that immigrant community members can live without the fear of ICE detention and deportation as a result of simply living their lives, whether it’s driving a car, taking a walk, or anything else.

Through the settlement, Daly City agreed to the following:

  • Provide a letter in support of Mr. Escobar-Lopez's U-visa application
  • Pay Mr. Escobar-Lopez damages
  • Amend the Daly City Police Department's Enforcement of Immigration Laws policy to effectively end the city law enforcement's collaboration with ICE

“We are honored to work alongside the Asian Law Caucus in securing long-overdue justice for Mr. Escobar-Lopez, and we are hopeful that the city’s new policy commitment will produce meaningful benefits for immigrant and refugee communities,” said Latham & Watkins associate Francis Acott, who worked on Mr. Escobar-Lopez’s case along with partners Belinda Lee and Gavin Masuda, and associate Aamir Virani.

Californians Call on Local and State Officials to End ICE Transfers

From San Diego to San Mateo County, hundreds of community members have been turning out at public meetings this past month and sharing testimonies to hold local officials and police departments accountable to their rights and state laws. As a result of years of advocacy by residents, immigrant rights advocates, and faith leaders, the San Mateo County Sheriff announced his department would end its collaboration with ICE. Residents and members of the San Mateo County Coalition for Immigrant Rights are calling on the Board of Supervisors to pass an ordinance that makes this policy permanent.

At the state level, the legislature will consider the VISION Act (AB 937-Carrillo) beginning in January. A University of California San Diego poll earlier this year found that a vast majority of Californians support the legislation.

About Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus
Asian Law Caucus (ALC) was founded in 1972 as the nation’s first legal and civil rights organization focusing on the needs of low-income, immigrant and underserved Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Recognizing that social, economic, political, and racial inequalities continue to exist in the United States, ALC is committed to the pursuit of equality and justice for all sectors of our society.

About Latham & Watkins LLP

Latham & Watkins delivers innovative solutions to complex legal and business challenges around the world. From a global platform, our lawyers advise clients on market-shaping transactions, high-stakes litigation and trials, and sophisticated regulatory matters. Latham is one of the world’s largest providers of pro bono services, steadfastly supports initiatives designed to advance diversity within the firm and the legal profession, and is committed to exploring and promoting environmental sustainability.