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ACLU Sues Over Jim Thorpe Traffic Stop

The borough of Jim Thorpe, Pa. is about 30 miles north of Allentown.

Pennsylvania’s chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is suing the borough of Jim Thorpe and two of its police officers, for what it says was an illegal traffic stop.

The suit is part of a larger effort by the ACLU​, which claims other police departments ​are also pulling people over based on race or presumed immigration status.

The incident happened in 2018, when two borough police officers pulled over Arturo Jonas Joaquin Marte and two others.

Vanessa Stine, the state ACLU’s immigrant rights attorney, said Marte was detained for almost four hours before being taken into Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody.

“Our client was put in a holding cell, left handcuffed, wasn’t provided access to the bathroom or food or water,” she said.

Borough police didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Stine declined to say whether Marte is in the country legally, but did say he’s currently in Philadelphia, where he lives.

She said the point is, he shouldn’t have been stopped in the first place.

“It’s racial profiling that’s resulting in illegal detentions and the involvement of ICE,” she said.

The ACLU is bringing a similar lawsuit against state police, on behalf of 11 clients they believe were illegally detained.

Stine said they intend to keep filing suits as long as these traffic stops keep happening.

“The police,” she said, “have no business in playing immigration agent.”

WESA will be surveying Pennsylvania candidates for federal and state office for the 2022 general election — tell us which issues are most important to you.