At a Glance
The complaint was filed in the Southern District of New York on April 4, 2023. Briefing continues.
The Bronx Defenders, New York Civil Liberties Union
Nahum Gilberto Ortiz
Luis Gonzalez Carbajal
Jeremias Lopez Lopez
Denny Molina Cantor
Elmer Moscoso Guerra
Lucas Palacios Alvarado
Ortiz et al. v. Orange County, NY et al. is a federal lawsuit against Orange County in New York, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and county officials for their punitive retaliation against immigrants detained at Orange County Jail who organized to speak out against the dangerous conditions and inhumane treatment at the jail.
The filing describes that in 2021, the plaintiffs in this lawsuit and dozens of other immigrants detained at the jail engaged in coordinated efforts to speak out about conditions there, including the medical neglect, racist harassment, and physical assault that they had faced. They filed grievances, administrative complaints, and contacted elected officials, reporters, and advocates. In February 2022, these efforts culminated in a multiday hunger strike. As retaliation, jail guards placed plaintiffs in segregated confinement, prevented them from communicating with the outside world, and issued disciplinary citations imposing additional time in segregated confinement. Despite this retaliatory crackdown, the plaintiffs’ advocacy continued: they filed complaints with the Department of Homeland Security and testified in front of New York City Council. Again, their advocacy was met with a swift and crushing response: in July 2022, ICE transferred two of the plaintiffs to an immigration jail in Mississippi, separating them from their families and attorneys in New York. The same day, jail officials moved the rest of the plaintiffs into a punitive segregation unit within Orange County Jail.
In this lawsuit, plaintiffs challenge these unlawful retaliatory actions as violations of their rights under the First Amendment. They also challenge their retaliatory transfer to out-of-state immigration jails as a violation of ICE’s own transfer policies. Plaintiffs seek declaratory relief and compensatory damages; they seek release from punitive segregation; and they seek a transfer back to the New York area to be close to their family and attorneys.