ROCKVILLE, Md. (AP) — A Salvadoran national is suing Maryland Department of Natural Resources police, alleging officers notified federal immigration officials of his whereabouts when they fined him for improperly removing a tree.
The Washington Post reports 31-year-old José Ricardo Villalta Canales has been in immigration detention for more than three months. Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs attorneys say he was helping a relative cut down a dead tree in August when he was approached by officers.
The lawsuit filed Monday says officers fined him and detained him for hours after making a routine check for warrants. Villalta Canales has no prior criminal record and immigration officials had only filed an administrative warrant for deportation. Maryland agencies are only supposed to act on judicial or criminal warrants.