Originally published by LA Times
Thank you for your article revealing how U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement holds American citizens in custody, sometimes for lengthy periods of time. ("ICE held an American man in custody for 1,273 days. He's not the only one who had to prove his citizenship," April 27)
I am a former attorney with Immigration and Naturalization Services, ICE's predecessor agency, have have represented a number of U.S. citizens who the government has tried to deport. Many of them were born abroad, but acquired U.S. citizenship at birth through their parents, the same way politicians like Republican Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas) and John McCain (Ariz.) became citizens. In each of my cases, an immigration judge terminated deportation proceedings.
Derivative citizenship laws are complex and ever-changing. It is a terrible idea to let ICE agents, who are not lawyers, make such determinations. Instead, an attorney who is well-versed in these laws needs to be able to review whether these persons are U.S. citizens the same day that an arrest is made.
Holding American citizens in ICE custody and forcing them to prove their status is a violation of their rights under the Constitution.
Carl Shusterman, Los Angeles
To the editor: Thank you for your excellent and important story — important because it highlights yet another example of governmental, bureaucratic uncaring and arrogance.
While all stories of governmental injustice, no matter how statistically insignificant, should inspire in good Americans a "there but for the grace of God" sensation, as a naturalized immigrant and person of color, it does so for me particularly.
So I wondered if there was a significant, obtainable statistic missing from the story — namely, what was the ratio of white to persons of color afflicted by these situations. It's well known that there are thousands of white foreigners who overstay their visas and live on for years in the U.S., and I think the role of race in the activities of ICE is insufficiently examined.
Simon Li, Pasadena