Immigration Officials Still Detaining US Citizens For Deportation

Immigration Officials Still Detaining US Citizens For Deportation


Originally published by Yahoo News

A lawsuit filed Wednesday against the immigration practices of Miami-Dade County, Florida, said Garland Creedle, a U.S. citizen, had been illegally detained for deportation which violated his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights as well as Florida law itself.

The 18-year-old was reportedly involved in a domestic dispute case in March which was later dropped. At the time however, he posted bail, but was then detained overnight on suspicion of being an undocumented immigrant. Creedle was born in Honduras but his father being a U.S. citizen had allowed him to become one too. Once authorities realized their mistake, they released him, the New York Times reported.

This was not however an isolated instance of a U.S. national being detained for deportation by U.S. immigration authorities. Over the years, a number of citizens have been detained and even deported from the U.S. despite being legally protected from it.

In the lawsuit brought by Creedle, his lawyers asked for unspecified damages among other things. They also said the detention was not just unconstitutional but uncalled for.

Speaking to the Times, Rebecca Sharpless, representing Creedle, and the head of the University Of Miami Law School’s immigration clinic, said: “It goes to show just how sloppy this is. What immigration does is check a box on a boilerplate form saying they have probable cause to hold someone in custody, and that is supposed to be constitutionally sufficient to detain them.”

Many other U.S. citizens however, have experienced far worse. A 2011 report by political science professor at Northwestern University and director of its Deportation Research Clinic, Jacqueline Stevens, said tens of thousands of American citizens had been detained or deported in just under a decade.

"Recent data suggests that in 2010 well over 4,000 US citizens were detained or deported as aliens, raising the total since 2003 to more than 20,000, a figure that may strike some as so high as to lack credibility," Stevens wrote in the report.

"But the deportation laws and regulations in place since the late 1980s have been mandating detention and deportation for hundreds of thousands of incarcerated people each year without attorneys or, in many cases, administrative hearings. It would be truly shocking if this did not result in the deportation of US citizens."

Robert Dominguez, despite his 1979 birth in Lawrence, Massachusetts, was deported out of the U.S. for 10 years in 1999. In 2009, he got a U.S. passport but two years later, after being arrested on a drug charge, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) rescinded his passport despite photographic and documentary evidence showing he was born in the U.S, according to Northwestern University’s Buffet Institute For Global Studies.

Even when a U.S. national is merely detained and released later, according to Eric Puente , an immigration attorney working in Dallas, the entire process is complicated by the fact the immigration court does not give detainees the default right to an attorney.

His own Mexican-born client, Ricardo Garza was pulled over last year for driving while intoxicated. Despite being a U.S. citizen by a 1999 ruling by an immigration judge, ICE claimed he was only a U.S. resident eligible for deportation due to a criminal history, according to Vice News.

"Mr. Garza had his social security card and driver's license on him when he was arrested," Puente said. "Had ICE done their due diligence and listened to him when he said an immigration judge ruled he was a US citizen in 1999, and had they looked at their own records, they should have known he was a citizen."

On the other hand, ICE said any removal happens only after verifying the foreign nationality of a detainee.

"ICE processes an individual for removal only when all available information indicates that the individual is a foreign national," ICE spokeswoman Danielle Bennett said. "As a matter of law, the agency cannot assert its civil immigration enforcement authority to arrest and/or detain a United States citizen. Further, ICE has implemented stringent safeguards to protect against the possibility that a US citizen is detained or removed."

A reported lack of a comprehensive database of U.S. citizens is also a major contributing factor.

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