Colombian Woman Detained in South Florida: Lawyer

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An attorney says a woman was detained by authorities without probable cause while boating with friends in South Florida.

A Sunday plan for boating out of Key Biscayne took a turn for the worse for Luisa Velasquez and her friends. According to Velasquez’ attorney, the group was boarding a boat for a day of fun back on March 5th at Crandon Park Marina, when authorities approached them.

“This individual was accosted by two Coast Guard officials and asked for proof of her legality within the United States,” attorney Eduardo Soto said.

In an email Tuesday, officials denied that the Coast Guard was involved in the incident and referred NBC 6 to contact Customs and Border Protection for more information.

Velasquez’ friend says the officials asked all of them for their ID’s. She claims one asked her when she arrived in Miami and looked through her passport. Seconds later, she says they brought back fingerprinting equipment.

“With no reasonable suspicion possible, other than profiling, she was illegally here,” Soto said.

Velasquez, from Colombia, overstayed her visa about five months. According to friends with her on the boat, she was detained at the marina, and her attorney believes this is not in line with President Trump’s executive orders on immigration and law enforcement.

“Those orders specifically state that in order for an immigration official or someone acting as an immigration official to have the right to arrest and detain someone, they have to have probable cause to believe the individual is in violation of the immigration laws,” Soto said. “It is not sufficient to look at one at the color of their eyes, at the color of their skin, at the language they speak.”

The Coast Guard released a statement saying, in part, that “the Coast Guard does not patrol land for immigration enforcement purposes. The Immigration and Nationality Act, or INA, does not apply at sea.”

Soto says he’s asking for stay of removal, pending the outcome of the case.

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