The city of Chicago on Tuesday settled a civil rights case involving an ICE detainee who was arrested during a raid on his home after he was wrongfully identified as a gang member.
Wilmer Catalan-Ramirez, 31, was seriously injured in a March 27 arrest after six U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents entered his Back of the Yards home without a warrant, according to court documents.
Catalan-Ramirez, who lawyers say was never a gang member, was placed in the Chicago Police Department’s “over-inclusive” gang database, which effectively stripped him of any privacy protections under Chicago’s sanctuary city ordinance.
His attorneys filed a lawsuit in May alleging that ICE agents relied on false records to identify Catalan-Ramirez as a gang member when they unlawfully raided his home in March. Prior to being detained by ICE, Catalan-Ramirez had no criminal record in Cook County, records show.
Under terms of the settlement, the city has agreed to modify its records to make clear that Catalan-Ramierz is not a gang member.
City officials will also pen a letter in support of his visa application to federal immigration officials. The settlement does not involve monetary compensation.
The city Law Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
“This case demonstrates that ICE’s use of gang databases is deeply troubling, especially when ICE increasingly vilifies immigrants as gang members to justify its extreme enforcement policies,” said Sejal Zota, legal director of the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild.
The group is calling on ICE to release Catalan-Ramirez from custody and to allow him to receive critical medical care.
Catalan-Ramirez, who is living in the U.S. illegally, was slammed to the floor and handcuffed during the raid, according to court documents.
His attorneys say the violent arrest aggravated the injuries suffered in a January drive-by shooting. Catalan-Ramirez, a father of three and a former mechanic, was shot in the head and shoulder, causing partial paralysis, brain damage and fractures to his skull and shoulder.
Catalan-Ramirez has spent eight months in an ICE-approved detention center in McHenry County. His attorneys say he has been denied proper medical care for his injuries.
The suit named ICE, the city of Chicago, CPD and McHenry County.
Vanessa del Valle, an attorney with the MacArthur Justice Center, said authorities should conduct a comprehensive audit of CPD’s gang database to determine the number of people who have been falsely labeled as gang members.
Attorneys representing Luis Pedrote-Salinas filed a similar lawsuit in July, saying their client was denied immigration relief after Chicago police erroneously placed his name in its gang database. Pedrote-Salinas, who has lived in the country illegally since he was 5, says he was falsely identified as a gang member because of his race, ethnicity, age and neighborhood. That lawsuit is ongoing.
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