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Chicago Lawsuit Underscores Need for Improved Regulation of Government Watch Lists

Written By The Shapiro Law Group on June 23, 2017

An illegal immigrant alleges he had his application for immigration relief denied because the Chicago Police Department wrongly included him in their gang database. These events show how much damage being included on a government watch list can do.

Luis Vincente Pedrote-Salinas recently filed a lawsuit against the city of Chicago, claiming that his deportation reprieve was denied because the police erroneously included him in their gang database. He claims that the police mistakenly identified him as a gang member because of racial profiling and the area where he lives.

Pedrote-Salinas has been living illegally in the United States for 20 years, since the age of five. He was arrested in 2011 when an unopened can of beer was found in his car, but charges were dismissed. Later that year, he was picked up by ICE agents and spent six months in a detention center in Texas. ICE was looking at foreign-born gang members, and he was mistakenly targeted because of his inclusion in the gang database, according to his immigration law firm. Chicago police also arrested him in 2010 and 2015, for battery and aggravated assault, respectively.

The lawsuit he filed against the city claims that his constitutional rights to due process were violated when he was, essentially, named a gang member. Thus, he was denied by the DACA program twice, once in 2014 and then in 2015. He is slated for deportation by the end of this month.

Government Watch Lists Can Destroy Lives

Government watch lists are designed to help law enforcement protect communities. However, being erroneously added to a gang database, a no-fly list or a child-abuser list can do irreparable harm to a person’s reputation and life.

While illegal immigrants are at risk, they can get help from an immigration law firm. Chicago is a sanctuary city, so immigrants do have options.

However, they aren’t the only ones at risk. Anyone living within US borders, be they a citizen or an immigrant, can be targeted, and end up having his or her life destroyed. Once included on a watch list, the damage has already been done, even if later proven innocent.

It’s essential that new regulations are implemented to avoid such situations. At the very least, people should be notified of their inclusion and should be given the opportunity to fight the decision.