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Douglas County Sheriff's Office Sued For Allegedly Aiding Immigration Authorities

The Oregon Law Center is suing the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, and Sheriff John Hanlin, over allegations the office detained a woman in cooperation with federal immigration authorities.

Irene Lopez-Flores was arrested in December 2017 and held at the Douglas County Jail on allegations of theft and computer crime. 

A day after her arrest, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement sent an immigration detainer, asking the jail to hold Lopez-Flores for no more than 48 hours after her scheduled release.

Lopez-Flores’ father, Daniel Lopez, paid the $1,500 in bail, but the jail held her for two more hours to allow immigration officers to assume custody, according to court filings.

"After Defendant was arrested, Mr. Lopez asked the release office if there was a federal immigration hold placed on Defendant. He was told that there was not," wrote attorneys in a court filing.

Lopez-Flores was transferred to ICE custody as her father watched, legal documents state.  

She was subsequently deported to Mexico. 

The lawsuit claims this was an act of unlawful arrest and detention that violated Lopez-Flores’ fourth amendment rights.  

“Douglas County and John Hanlin have a practice of seizing and detaining persons at the request of [ICE], regardless of whether they have probable cause to believe those persons have committed a crime or are subject to a judicial warrant for their arrest,” the lawsuit states.  

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office declined to comment on the pending litigation.

<p>Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin, right, addresses the media at a news conference at the Roseburg Public Safety Building in Roseburg, Oregon, on Oct. 2, 2015.</p>

Mike Sullivan

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Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin, right, addresses the media at a news conference at the Roseburg Public Safety Building in Roseburg, Oregon, on Oct. 2, 2015.

Copyright 2019 Oregon Public Broadcasting

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Meerah Powell is a general assignment and breaking news reporter for OPB. She previously worked as a news reporter and podcast producer for Eugene Weekly in her hometown of Eugene, Oregon. Along with writing and audio work, Meerah also has experience with photography and videography. She graduated from the University of Oregon's School of Journalism and Communication.