Galarza v. Szalczyk, No. 12-3991 (3d Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
Galarza, a U.S. citizen, was working at a construction site. The contractor sold cocaine to an undercover detective, Correa, who arrested the contractor, Galarza, and other employees for conspiracy to deliver cocaine. Galarza had a wallet, containing his Pennsylvania driver’s license, his Social Security Card, a debit card, and his health insurance card. The complaint listed Galarza’s place of birth as Perth, N.J. and contained his Social Security Number and date of birth. Correa called ICE and provided Galarza’s information. Galarza claims that, by making the call, Correa indicated that she suspected Galarza had given false identification information. Galarza was detained and went through booking; officials took his wallet and its contents. ICE Agent Szalczyk, acting on information relayed by Correa, filed an immigration detainer that described Galarza as a suspected “alien” and citizen of the Dominican Republic. The detainer was not accompanied by a warrant, an affidavit of probable cause, or a removal order. A surety company posted bail, but Galarza was told that he would not be released. Galarza had not been interviewed by ICE nor provided with a copy of the detainer. Three days after his arrest, a counselor told Galarza about the detainer. Galarza protested and urged the counselor to retrieve his wallet. The counselor refused. Galarza later met with ICE officers. The detainer was removed and Galarza was released about three days after his arrest. Galarza was acquitted and filed complaints under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. 346(b). The district court dismissed the complaint against Lehigh County, holding that it could not be held responsible for Galarza’s detention because it was compelled to follow the detainer. The Third Circuit vacated. Immigration detainers do not compel a state or local law enforcement agency to detain suspected aliens subject to removal.