Oregon Public Broadcasting

A court in Washington state has ruled that local law enforcement officers cannot prolong a detention in order to ask people about their immigration status.

The suit was brought in Pierce County Superior Court on behalf of three individuals who were detained by Kitsap County Sheriffs in 2010.

The men had just finished harvesting shellfish, when they were stopped by officers checking for a defective headlight and for their shellfish licenses. But when these issues were resolved, deputies prolonged the traffic stop in order to ask about their immigration status. Deputies then called U.S. Border Patrol and held the men until immigration officers arrived.

In a ruling that became final yesterday, the court gave guidance to all local law enforcement in Washington state: The state's constitution forbids law enforcement officers from prolonging a detention to investigate an individual's immigration status.

Matt Adams, an attorney with Northwest Immigrant Rights Project who teamed with the ACLU in this suit, called the ruling a victory

This story originally appeared on Oregon Public Broadcasting.

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