Court blocks deportation, says man was pulled over in North County for no reason

LOS ANGELES — Deportation proceedings against a Los Angeles construction worker who was pulled over and arrested by U.S. Customs and Border Protection in North County have been dismissed, it was announced Thursday.

An immigration court agreed with a motion filed last year by the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Southern California that the officers had no legitimate reason to pull over Jonathan Mondragon, who was driving home from his job, according to the ACLU.

A CBP spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

According to the ACLU’s court papers, the officer who detained and arrested Mondragon “knew nothing about him, but the fact that he looked Latino.”

When the Los Angeles resident was pulled over for questioning while driving on a highway in the north San Diego County area on his way home from work, he was not accused of any traffic violation. There was nothing wrong with the car and he had a clean criminal record. Moreover, the CBP officer had no warrant to justify the stop, the ACLU said.

“Mr. Mondragon fought for his constitutional right not to be racially profiled — and he won,” ACLU SoCal staff attorney Eva Bitran said. “This case demonstrates that the government cannot deport someone on the basis of an unlawful arrest, and that immigrants and their lawyers can hold the government accountable when they try to.”

The stop happened last August when Mondragon was returning from his construction job laying tile. A CBP patrol car pulled to the right of Mondragon, matching his speed before pulling him over. He was taken from his car, handcuffed and arrested, according to the ACLU.

Mondragon was taken to a series of facilities and waited nearly six weeks for his initial court hearing, ACLU lawyers said.

After the ACLU filed its motion, CBP officials said the highway where Mondragon was stopped is the scene of frequent immigration-related illegal activity. But the immigration court noted that Mondragon “was driving on a well-trafficked interstate highway north of San Diego on a weekday in the late afternoon,” and that there was no reason to determine he “was unlawfully present or otherwise engaged in unlawful activity.”

The court’s June 18 decision, “that the CBP officer did not possess adequate reasonable suspicion” for the traffic stop, ordered that removal proceedings to deport Mondragon be immediately halted.

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