Lawsuit Filed Over Mexican with Valid Visa Held in Jail for Seven Days

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Talk about a nightmare.

According to a lawsuit recently filed by a Mexican citizen, a busted tail light could earn you seven days in the county jail -- even if you're here legally and all your papers are in order.

Martin V. Flores was stopped by a Phoenix police officer on February 8, 2008, since one of his two license plates was burned out.

But even though Flores had a valid passport, visa, and boarding crossing card, the officer decided that his Mexican driver's license must be a forgery. Flores was arrested.

At the jail, Flores alleges, the Phoenix officer asked a Maricopa County detention officer who'd been trained by the Department of Homeland Security to check the visa. "The check revealed that the visa appeared to be valid, but [the police officer] wanted to confirm this result with the Department of Homeland Security," the suit alleges. Because it was too late to call, apparently, Flores was left in jail.

And here's the awful part: He was left there for seven days.

Seven!

Can you imagine the outrage if the Mexicans tried this with a vacationing American?

"Over the course of the seven days in jail, Flores continued to advise every deputy and agent of the MCSO that he had contact with that he was legally in the State and being held wrongfully," the suit alleges. "MCSO released him only after his attorney and a friend learned where he was and physically presented all of his papers to the MCSO. ... Thus, for a civil citation, Mr. Flores was held in custody for seven days."

Can you imagine if this guy didn't have a lawyer? Or a friend with enough chutzpah to track him down and make some noise? Seven days is bad enough; sounds like this guy could have rotted for much longer without an intervention.

We called Flores attorney, Jeremy S. Geigle of Jackson White, but have yet to get a response. We'll keep you posted.

Records in Phoenix Municipal Court suggest that Flores, then 30, was arrested for improper license plate lights, driving without insurance, and driving without a valid license. All charges were dropped two months after his arrest. 


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