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Plaintiff in Frederick County race bias case faces deportation

HAGERSTOWN — A looming deportation order could complicate a Salvadoran woman’s federal lawsuit alleging race discrimination by two Frederick County sheriff’s deputies, a Latino civil-rights group said Wednesday.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency plans to deport Roxana Orellana Santos Sept. 30, Casa de Maryland said. That’s four weeks before an Oct. 28 court date for oral arguments on whether her case should go to trial.

“Without her here it is going to create some difficulties and some problems,” Casa de Maryland attorney Zorayda Moreria-Smith said. The group is helping Santos with her case.

Deportation wouldn’t render the case moot but it would complicate it because Santos’ lawyers would have to communicate with her in El Salvador, Moreria-Smith said.

Santos claims to have suffered discrimination in 2008 when deputies Jeffrey Openshaw and Kevin Lynch detained her for what they say was suspicious behavior when she tried to hide behind a shipping container after spotting them. A background check revealed Santos’ illegal immigration status and she was turned over to ICE.

Santos claims she was singled out because of her ethnic appearance while she peacefully ate her lunch outdoors. Her complaint, which also names the Frederick County Board of Commissioners, alleges the sheriff’s office overstepped its authority under an immigration enforcement program called 287(g) that trains local law officers to check the immigration status of those suspected of arrestable offenses.

Santos was neither arrested nor charged in the 2008 incident.

Santos has a 3-year-old son. She is one of four mothers whose pending deportation was highlighted at a Casa de Maryland news conference Wednesday in Washington. The three others — Ruth Diaz, Maria Bolanos and Florinda Faviola Lorenzo Desemilian — are from Prince George’s County.

Spokeswoman Susana Flores said the group hopes to persuade the Obama administration to review the women’s deportation cases under a policy change announced last month focusing on deporting illegal immigrants who are criminals or pose a threat to national security or public safety.

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