The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah added the federal government Monday to its lawsuit alleging the Salt Lake County Jail illegally prolonged the incarceration of a Weber State University student while attempting to verify his legal status in the country.
Leah Farrell, staff attorney with the ACLU, said through the process of discovery over the past few months, it became increasingly clear that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement were direct parties to 22-year-old Enrique Uroza being jailed for 39 days last summer despite his posting bail on state criminal theft and forgery charges and a judge ordering his release.
"Through their policies and practices, the officials and agents of ICE who we have brought into this action all had roles in supporting the county's policy and causing the unlawful detention ofMr. Uroza," Farrell said. "These officials and agents must be held liable for their parts in causing Mr. Uroza's 39-day ordeal."
Lori Haley, spokeswoman for ICE, said the agency doesn't comment on pending litigation.
The lawsuit originally targeted Salt Lake County for its policy on attempting to determine the legal status of detainees under SB81, passed by the Legislature in 2008 that required the sheriff's department to make a "reasonable effort" to determine status.
Uroza, in a statement, said holding people who have posted bail is wrong.
"By adding federal officials and agents as defendants, maybe this case can have a wider impact in fighting this practice than just Salt Lake County," he said.