Luis Vicente Pedrote-Salinas, who says he was denied immigration relief because the Chicago Police Department erroneously included him in a gang database, filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the city and the police department. (Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune)
A Gage Park man who is scheduled to be deported later this month was denied immigration relief after Chicago police erroneously placed his name in its gang database, according to a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday.
Luis Vicente Pedrote-Salinas, 25, who has lived in the country illegally since he was 5, says he was falsely identified as a gang member because of his race, ethnicity, age and neighborhood.
Pedrote-Salinas was 19 when he was arrested in January 2011 for having an unopened can of beer in his car. He spent a night in jail, but the charges against him were later dismissed, according to the lawsuit.
In August 2011, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents raided Pedrote-Salinas’ home and arrested him during an operation targeting foreign-born members of Chicago street gangs. He was detained at McHenry County Jail for more than a week and spent six months in a Texas detention center.
Attorney Vanessa del Valle said agents wrongly targeted her client because his name was in the Chicago Police Department’s gang database.
"Individuals are included in the gang database without any notification by CPD and then they are not allowed any opportunity to contest their inclusion in the gang database," she said. "Chicago cannot truly be a sanctuary city until CPD ends this practice."
The lawsuit says that authorities violated Pedrote-Salinas’ right to due process by characterizing him as a gang member and that the manner in which CPD gathers and disseminates information about gang membership violates the Illinois Civil Rights Act, which prohibits racial and ethnic discrimination.
Defendants listed in the lawsuit include the city of Chicago, police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, and five police officers.
CPD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the department has not received the lawsuit and does not comment on pending or proposed litigation.
Pedrote-Salinas was released from jail in February 2012 after posting a $3,000 bond but was later served with a voluntary deportation order set for July 20, according to his other attorney Chris Bergin.
He was arrested in 2010 for battery and again in 2015 for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, though those charges were later dismissed. The 2010 arrest involved an argument between his cousin and another person, and the 2015 arrest involved an altercation between a friend and another driver, according to his attorney.
Pedrote-Salinas applied for the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in 2014 and again in 2015 but was denied each time, according to Bergin. The administrative program provides temporary deportation relief for people who have been in the U.S. since 2007, were under 16 at the time of their arrival and were under age 31 as of 2012.
"Over the hundreds or thousands of (DACA applications) I’ve done, I’ve never had someone with his record, or lack of record — he had all the proof he’s lived here, he graduated and all of that, there’s no other reason that they would deny him," Bergin said.
Bergin said his client was the victim of an armed robbery while working at a Subway restaurant in 2012. He could have qualified for a U-visa, a special visa issued to victims of crime, but was denied after the police department identified the store — not the employees — as the victim in the incident.
Bergin said he will file a motion to reopen Pedrote-Salinas’ deportation case and halt proceedings until the federal lawsuit is settled.
Attorneys representing Wilmer Catalan-Ramirez filed a similar lawsuit in May, claiming their client was erroneously placed in CPD’s "over-inclusive" gang database, which effectively stripped him of any privacy protections under Chicago’s sanctuary city ordinance, according to court documents.
As a result, Catalan-Ramirez, who lawyers say was never a gang member, was seriously hurt in a March 27 arrest after ICE agents entered his Back of the Yards home without a warrant
The suit, which names ICE, the city of Chicago, CPD and McHenry County, claims authorities used excessive force and unlawful search and seizure. It also contends authorities violated his right to due process in his removal proceedings by characterizing him as a gang member.