Man Whose False Inclusion in CPD Gang Database Made him ICE Target Reaches Settlement with City of Chicago

Neves, Jessey
National Immigration Project

A settlement has been reached between the City of Chicago and Wilmer Catalan-Ramirez, whose false inclusion in the Chicago Police Department’s “Gang Database” and the sharing of that information with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) triggered a nightmarish chain of events that left him imprisoned, in severe physical pain and mental anguish, and fighting deportation.

Catalan-Ramirez, represented by the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, filed a federal lawsuit against ICE and the City of Chicago in May of this year. The suit alleged violations of unreasonable search and seizure, and due process protections in the U.S. Constitution. The suit also alleges that the manner in which CPD gathers and disseminates false information about gang membership violated the Illinois Civil Rights Act, which prohibits racial and ethnic discrimination. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents relied on false records alleging Mr. Catalan-Ramirez is a gang member when they raided his home in March.

Under terms of the lawsuit settlement, the City of Chicago agreed to modify Mr. Catalan-Ramirez’ law enforcement records to make clear that he is not a gang member. The City also has provided an official letter addressed to federal immigration officials in support of his visa application.

“The City of Chicago has cleared Wilmer’s name but the gang data base still exists and thousands of almost exclusively Black and Brown Chicagoans have been labeled as gang members without adequate due process” said Vanessa del Valle, an attorney with the MacArthur Justice Center. ” “Wilmer’s story demonstrates the need for a comprehensive audit of the database to determine how many other people are falsely labeled and for CPD to cease this practice until it develops adequate due process protections.