Immigrant sues Chicago police alleging gang database error

The database maintained by police has been the subject of scrutiny before

By Sophia Tareen
Associated Press

CHICAGO — A Mexican immigrant scheduled for deportation filed a lawsuit against Chicago police Tuesday, alleging he was wrongly listed in a gang database and that it cost him the chance to get protection through a federal program and remain in the U.S.

Luis Vicente Pedrote-Salinas, 25, was brought to the country when he was 5 years old and doesn't have legal permission to stay, according to the lawsuit. He was hoping to stay under an executive policy started in the Obama administration which grants young immigrants meeting certain criteria temporary relief and a chance to get a work permit or study.

According to the lawsuit, Pedrote was stopped by Chicago police in January 2011 after getting into his car for having an unopened can of beer in the cup holder. Charges were dismissed. Officers said in the police report that they were assigned to the area as part of a "gang suppression mission" and claimed Pedrote was a Latin Kings member. Months later, immigration agents allegedly acting on the information from the database, raided Pedrote's home and detained him for six months.

He is scheduled to be deported July 20.

Attorneys said Pedrote was never in a gang, is a model son and was a student athlete. The lawsuit, which alleges Chicago Police Department officers targeted him because of his race, says Pedrote was never allowed to challenge the information in the database.

In 2014, he filed an application for the federal program Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, but was rejected despite meeting requirements, attorneys say.

"If CPD had not labeled Mr. Pedrote a gang member and included him in its Gang Database, his application for DACA likely would have been granted and he would have received deferred action from deportation," the lawsuit states. "Mr. Pedrote's liberty has been deprived based on false evidence used against him that he could not challenge."

The lawsuit, which seeks a jury trial, alleges Pedrote's constitutional rights were violated because he was denied due process and he was discriminated against. The complaint names Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, police officers and the city of Chicago. It seeks damages along with relief the court "may deem appropriate and just."

Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi declined comment, citing pending litigation. A Chicago spokesman didn't immediately respond to a message.

The database maintained by police has been the subject of scrutiny before, including other lawsuits. A man injured during a raid by immigration agents filed a federal civil rights complaint in May, alleging authorities wrongly believed he was a gang member.

However, police say it's used to target those to drive street violence in the city.

Associated Press
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