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Salvadoran woman who won civil rights suit against Frederick County is granted restraining order against ICE

Salvadoran woman who won civil rights suit against Frederick County is granted restraining order against ICE
Roxana Orellana Santos heads into the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices in downtown Baltimore in 2017. A federal judge granted a temporary restraining order against ICE in her case Monday. (Kevin Rector / Baltimore Sun)

A Salvadoran woman has won a temporary restraining order against U.S. immigration officials after she was unexpectedly detained last week amid mediation for her 2009 civil rights lawsuit in Maryland.

U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake issued the restraining order Monday, directing the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement not to remove Roxana Orellana Santos from the United States, according to court records.


The order does not guarantee her release, but is a “positive first step” toward her release, Santos’ attorney, Nicholas Katz, said Monday.

Santos’ attorneys filed a habeas corpus petition last week in U.S. District Court in Maryland requesting her release after she was unexpectedly detained Tuesday during a routine check-in with ICE in Baltimore.

Santos has completed the check-ins with ICE officials since she was first arrested by Frederick County sheriff’s deputies in 2008. Santos later won a civil rights lawsuit against the county stemming from that arrest.

Deputies at the time asked to see her identification while she was sitting on a curb eating lunch. They arrested her on an outstanding immigration warrant related to her failing to show up to court after having been detained after crossing into the country years before, court records state.

A court found Santos’ Fourth Amendment right to reasonable searches and seizures was violated by the deputies.

The Frederick County resident and her attorneys are in negotiations with Frederick County officials to determine the extent of damages. Santos also is seeking policy changes within the sheriff’s department as a result of the lawsuit.

Santos was unable to attend a court-ordered hearing Monday to continue those negotiations because of her detainment.

ICE officials’ decision to detain Santos came as a shock to activists and her civil rights attorney Jose Perez, who said a judge ordered in 2017 that immigration officials allow Santos to remain in the United States until the case had been settled. Perez notified ICE of the ruling Tuesday but said Santos was not released.

Activists with CASA de Maryland, a nonprofit that helped Santos file her civil rights suit, gathered in protest outside the federal building in Baltimore where Santos was being held Tuesday. Four people were arrested and issued citations for allegedly blocking a roadway.

Representatives for ICE and Homeland Security could not be reached for comment.