The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Pennsylvania State Police and seven troopers on behalf of 10 motorists, alleging that the troopers targeted the motorists for vehicle stops because they are Latinx and then unlawfully detained them and their passengers - some for hours at a time - to investigate their immigration status.

All 10 of the complainants are Latinx. The allegations in the lawsuit relate to five separate incidents from 2017 and 2018, four of which occurred in south central Pennsylvania. The fifth incident occurred in Bucks County. The incidents described in the lawsuit are representative of a much larger pattern of illegal enforcement of federal civil immigration law by the state police.

According to the lawsuit, troopers engaged in a “pattern and practice” of stopping Latinx people traveling on interstates and state roads for the purpose of investigating their immigration status. The lawsuit describes how troopers repeatedly demanded that all Latinx drivers and passengers show their “papers,” instead of focusing on any purported motor vehicle violation. The lawsuit also describes how the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, through its agency, the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP), have been deliberately indifferent to this pattern of discriminatory profiling and illegally prolonged detentions to investigate immigration status.  

Attorney(s)

Witold Walczak and Vanessa Stine of the ACLU of Pennsylvania

Pro Bono Law Firm(s)

Jonathan Feinberg of Kairys, Rudovsky, Messing, Feinberg & Lin LLP; Kathryn Deal, Mira Baylson, Ellen Pierce, and Jonathan Aronchick of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP; and Seth Kreimer of the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

Date filed

June 27, 2019

Court

U.S. District Court, Middle District, Pennsylvania

Status

Open

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