Last week Florida Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd grabbed national headlines by tweeting his officers would be checking IDs at all FEMA shelters. Why? So that anyone with an outstanding warrant seeking shelter from Hurricane Irma could be taken directly to jail. As for registered sex offenders, Judd said they would not be allowed, period. This presented some pretty obvious problems, the most glaring being that anyone without proper identification could be turned away from shelters — including the hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants living in Southern Florida.
In addition to the negative press surrounding the sheriff’s policy, however, Judd is now being sued by a man who claims he was turned down at a shelter for not complying with a background check. The suit, filed by immigrant rights group Nexus Services, points out that Florida driver’s licenses clearly designate sex offender status. They also note the policy was discriminatory in nature and violated the Fourth Amendment regarding unlawful search and seizure:
The suit, which attorney Cynthia Conlin said was electronically filed Sunday but hadn’t yet been processed by the 10th Judicial Circuit Court, claims Andres Borreno of Virginia was told by Polk County deputies he would have to submit to a criminal background check before he was able to enter a shelter Saturday. The suit doesn’t say if Borreno had an outstanding warrant.
“The officer… also never told Borreno that he was suspected of any crime or illegal act at that time,” the suit states. “Criminal suspicion is not raised by trying to enter an emergency shelter to save one’s life and the life of family members.”
For his part, Judd is calling the suit “frivolous,” adding that the defendant is using it “as an opportunity for nationwide press” due to his current profile.
(Via Orlando Sentinel)