Legal Latino Says He Was Wrongfully Detained
Updated On: Dec 04 2010 08:55:46 AM CST
The Allentown man who says he was wrongfully detained by immigration officials is speaking out.
"I'm still shocked every time I think about it. It's like how could this happen," said Allentown resident Ernesto Galarza.
36-year-old Ernesto Galarza was born in New Jersey, but two years ago he was locked up in Lehigh County Prison, because he says, authorities thought he was an illegal immigrant. "These people just took it into their hands to decide where I was from, without asking me," said Galarza.
The ACLU has filed a federal lawsuit on his behalf against the city of Allentown, Lehigh County, and federal officials.
"Mistakes like this cannot be allowed. This county does not allow detention based on race," said ACLU spokesperson Valerie Burch.
Galarza says on November 20, 2008 police mistakenly picked him up during a drug sweep.
He was transferred to Lehigh County Prison.
Galarza says he posted bail the next day.
"When I'm walking out I see the door opening, that put a smile on my face, but then it starts closing again. I'm like what, what happened," said Galarza.
Galarza was told he was being detained, but he wasn't told why until three days later when he met with a counselor.
"I also told the counselor in my wallet you guys got my driver's license, my Social Security card with my name on it," said Galarza.
When he met with ICE that same day, that's when he says, officials realized their mistake and let him go.
Galarza says he's still stunned by what happened.
"I don't want nobody else to be in my shoes especially when you're born in the United States," said Galarza.
Meantime, ICE declined to comment about the case.
Allentown officials say they're currently reviewing the lawsuit.
Copyright 2011 WFMZ. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Don't fall for this latest credit, debit card scam
Good Samaritan jumps into action after violent wreck on bypass
Teen on motorized bike hospitalized following accident with tractor trailer
Gas leak forces hotel in Lehigh County to evacuate
Guardrail pierces car; 'It's a miracle no one was decapitated,' police say
What's impact of 'Ice Bucket Challenge' on ALS?
2 Pottstown men arrested in taped beating of park ranger
Park may go to the dogs rather than the geese
Shooting in Philadelphia leaves suspect dead, officer wounded
Pranksters cover newlyweds' home in Post-it notes