False Inclusion in Chicago Police Department’s Gang Database Made Immigrant a Deportation Target

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 25, 2018

Contact:
Sejal Zota: szota@nipnlg.org, 617-227-9727 x108
Jessey Neves: Jessey.Neves@law.northwestern.edu, 562-453-6342

Chicago, IL. – After more than 10 months in a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center, Wilmer Catalan-Ramirez has been released and reunited with his family. ICE has also granted him the ability to remain in this country while his visa application is processed. Catalan-Ramirez’s detention was initially triggered when the Chicago Police Department (CPD) falsely included him in its Gang Database and then shared that false information with ICE.

“Wilmer is finally at home with his family and his children where he belongs. But his ordeal makes clear that the 'police stop to deportation pipeline' in Chicago is real and unless Chicago authorities end the gang database, our immigrant communities will continue to be in grave danger,” said Vanessa del Valle, an attorney with the MacArthur Justice Center.

“CPD falsely labeled Wilmer a gang member merely because of his ethnicity and then ICE, relying on CPD’s representations, raided his home and held him in jail for over 10 months where he endured inhumane conditions. Wilmer and his family have suffered irreparable harm all because CPD officers determined that Wilmer ‘looked like’ a gang member.”

“We are relieved that Wilmer is now home, but this is not justice. Justice will not be done until ICE ends its use of unreliable and discriminatory gang databases.

More lives should not have to be torn apart before ICE sees the writing on the wall: this tactic denies basic constitutional rights and is a failed government program”
–Sejal Zota, NIPNLG

Catalan-Ramirez’s release comes after months of sustained organizing led by Organized Communities Against Deportation and an agreement between U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and his attorneys, the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild. In December 2017, a settlement was reached with the City of Chicago that removed Catalan-Ramirez from the City’s Gang Database and provided an official letter from the City to federal immigration officials in support of Catalan-Ramirez’s visa application.

We are relieved that Wilmer is now home, but this is not justice. Justice will not be done until ICE ends its use of unreliable and discriminatory gang databases, said Sejal Zota, Legal Director of the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild. More lives should not have to be torn apart before ICE sees the writing on the wall: this tactic denies basic constitutional rights and is a failed government program.

On March 27 of last year, after CPD shared the false information with ICE, six immigration agents entered Catalan-Ramirez’ family apartment without a warrant, slammed him to the floor and handcuffed him - aggravating his preexisting injuries sustained as a bystander to a drive-by shooting that left him with factures to his skull and shoulder, traumatic brain injury and partial paralysis. He has spent the last ten months detained by ICE, where he has been denied crucial medical care and left isolated in a cell. Because of the lack of medical care, he risks living with partial paralysis for the rest of his life.

wilmer released photo with family
Photo courtesy of our partners at Organized Communities against Deportation (OCAD)