Statement of NWIRP and ACLU-WA on the Settlement of Rios v. Pierce County

News Release: 
Tuesday, April 19, 2022
TACOMA - Carlos Rios, a U.S. citizen, filed a lawsuit against Pierce County and Pierce County Jail deputies seeking damages and declaratory relief for his unlawful imprisonment and violations of his civil rights under the Fourth Amendment, Washington Law Against Discrimination, Keep Washington Working Act (KWW), and state tort law. Mr. Rios’s complaint was filed before the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington on January 12, 2022.
In November 2019, Mr. Rios was arrested in Pierce County and taken into custody on an alleged misdemeanor, but a day later, his charges were dropped, entitling him to immediate release. However, based on a detainer request from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Pierce County Jail deputies continued to hold Mr. Rios in jail even though they had no probable cause or judicial warrant to do so. In violation of KWW, Pierce County deputies responded to ICE’s notification request, shared personal information, and subsequently handed Mr. Rios over to the GEO Corporation employees who arrived at the jail to transport him to the Northwest ICE Processing Center (NWIPC) in Tacoma. Throughout, Pierce County disregarded his repeated pleas that he was a U.S. citizen. As a result, Mr. Rios was unlawfully incarcerated at the NWIPC for one week — until ICE officers finally realized that he was, in fact, a U.S. citizen and thus could not be subject to deportation. Mr. Rios previously filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government and reached a settlement in that case in September 2021.
On March 14, 2022, Mr. Rios agreed to end his lawsuit against Pierce County and jail deputies after reaching a settlement awarding him damages.
Leila Kang, staff attorney at the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, had this reaction:
“The settlement in Mr. Rios’s case sends an important message to Washington’s law enforcement agencies. Both federal and state laws make clear that county and city officers cannot detain people solely because immigration officials ask them to do so, and that officers violating those laws must be held accountable." 
Yvonne Chin, staff attorney at the ACLU of Washington had this reaction:
“Washingtonians expect their government agents to respect the Constitution and state law, and not to engage in racial profiling. Pierce County Sheriff’s deputies failed those expectations when they racially profiled Mr. Rios, violated his Fourth Amendment rights, and used state and local resources to aid federal immigration enforcement in violation of the Keep Washington Working Act. No amount of compensation will bring back what Mr. Rios lost, however, this settlement provides some relief for the unlawful arrest and imprisonment, and sends a signal across the state that government agents must respect the Constitution and state law.”