On February 16, 2009, the now mother of four was arrested after police arrived at her Tavares, Florida home in response to a call about an attack on her sister.

Since emigrating with her parents to the United States in the late ’90s after their home in Honduras was destroyed by Hurricane Mitch, Cote married a U.S. citizen and Gulf War veteran with whom she has four children. Police ran her name through their database, which alerted them that she’d been marked for deportation years earlier, and took her into custody.

In 2009, the agency admitted a “policy failure” contributed to Cote’s extended stay in their jail but said staff are not to blame for the oversight. No disciplinary action was taken against any employees.

Lake County Sheriff Gary Borders campaigned on deporting illegal aliens, yet Cote’s lawyers insist his office is taking the issue too far and as a result violating the protections afforded to individuals by the Constitution — even those living in the U.S. illegally.

The fundamental constitutional protections of due process and equal protection embodied in our Constitution and Bill of Rights apply to every “person” and are not limited to citizens. The framers of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights as well as the authors and ratifiers of post-Civil War amendments, all understood the essential importance of protecting non-citizens against governmental abuse and discrimination.

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