Mirna Artiga is a 29-year-old native of El Salvador who has resided in Maryland since 2005, when she entered the United States and was apprehended at the border and then released. She has never been arrested, charged, or convicted of any crime and has a son who is a U.S. citizen with learning and medical difficulties. Despite all of this, in 2014, she was stopped and detained unlawfully in violation of both the Fourth Amendment’s protections against unreasonable searches and seizures and the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.
In August 2014, Ms. Artiga was pulled over by a police car as she was driving home from work. When she asked why she had been stopped, the officer answered that it was because she did not have insurance, despite the fact that she was insured.
During the “traffic stop,” the officer repeatedly asked Ms. Artiga questions unrelated to any traffic violation, including about her immigration status. He eventually arrested Ms. Artiga and took her to a detention center in another county, where he handed her over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”). She remained in ICE custody for six weeks.
Ms. Artiga did not violate any traffic laws and there was no reasonable suspicion of a traffic violation or crime to justify the stop. She was never issued a citation for any traffic violation. Her case demonstrates how law enforcement officials abuse immigration enforcement procedures. These abusive procedures have devastating impacts on communities of colors broadly and have been and will be employed against Muslim individuals and communities.
Ms. Artiga filed a federal civil rights action arguing that both federal and local law enforcement violated her rights. She is being represented by Muslim Advocates, the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, and the law firm of Brown, Goldstein & Levy. The judge has issued two rulings in the case, upholding Ms. Artiga’s claims against the law enforcement official but dismissing her claims against the federal government. The case is currently ongoing in the district court.
Date filed: December 8, 2016
Court(s): United States District Court for the District of Maryland
Co-Counsel: American Civil Liberties Union; American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland; Brown, Goldstein & Levy