Vermilion Parish sheriff sued over detention of immigrants

Sep 20, 2012

To see if detained immigrants are being locked up unlawfully for long periods of time, a civil rights group is seeking to get the Vermilion Parish sheriff to turn over documents on immigrants who've been jailed since 2009.

The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a lawsuit against Sheriff Mike Couvillon Wednesday. The group says the sheriff has refused to hand over the documents, citing privacy concerns.

The group charges sheriff's offices may be holding immigrants longer than federal law permits.

"Law enforcement cannot just lock someone up — regardless of race, ethnicity or immigration status — and throw away the key," said Katie Schwartzmann, an SPLC lawyer in Louisiana.

Couvillon referred questions to his lawyer, who did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.