David, not his real name, had served almost eight years of a ten year prison sentence in Georgia. He was a model inmate, completing his GED and a variety of training classes. With his certificate in geology, David can tell you the right place to look for a woolly mammoth and with his barber training, make sure you won't look like one. If ICE were not running an illegal prison system, right now David, a US citizen, would have served his time and been free for over two years, starting his new life.
Instead, David remains incarcerated in Wilcox Prison. His attorney, Neil Rambana, is, as he puts it, “playing Sherlock Holmes” to try to figure out how ICE, the Georgia Department of Corrections, and the immigration courts arranged to falsely imprison his client and then cover up their misdeed.
Referring to the June 11, 2008 termination from Judge Cassidy, Rambana says: “When they have on the first page that on May 13 he ruled that the respondent had acquired US citizenship at birth, that's a wrong date. In my mind it's obfuscation. We need to get to the bottom of it now.”
The bottom line is that ICE falsely imprisoned David and Rambana caught the immigration court trying to cover this up.
Rambana's not just a sleuth also a terrific advocate. He drove three hours from his offices in Florida to Wilcox Prison in Georgia yesterday and was able to meet with David. Unfortunately, the warden did not honor Judge Cassidy's June 11, 2008 termination order – new parole restrictions were imposed very recently as a post hoc excuse -- and David remains falsely imprisoned. Rambana's priority now is to “move full force to see what the Department of Corrections is going to do to honor the termination order.”
Just the facts:
-In February, 2006 Georgia released David on parole from the Georgia Correctional and into ICE custody.
-ICE held David in the Fulton County jail from February, 2006 until August 31, 2006 during ICE removal proceedings. David wrote the immigration judge Judge William Cassidy a letter explaining that David is a US citizen. David's case was sent to Neil Rambana's office because they do pro bono work for immigrants in ICE custody in the Southeast. Rambana said that if David "had not written that letter, he would have been deported."
-On August 31, 2006 Judge Cassidy issued an order terminating the deportation proceedings. At that date, ICE and the state of Georgia were required to release David. ICE reserved the right to appeal the termination order, but they did not file an appeal. David himself verified that he should have been released by calling the 800 number for the Immigration Courts and punching in his information. The voice recording said that his deportation proceedings had been terminated.
-On August 31, 2006, David continued to be held in Fulton County Jail. The jail told ICE that they had no authority to hold David after the termination proceedings, but instead of releasing him, ICE transferred David to Baldwin Diagnostic Center. He was then shuffled around a few other places. Rambana tried to contact David at the Fulton County Jail and was told he was not there. So Rambana assumed, since the termination order had been issued, that David had been released.
-On May 12, 2008 Rambana was shocked to receive correspondence that David was again in removal proceedings. He assumed that David was picked up for a parole violation and reincarcerated, and then wrongfully put in to deportation proceedings. (Rambana learned only yesterday that David had never been released.) On May 12, Rambana promptly faxed Judge Cassidy a copy of Cassidy's original August 31, 2006 termination order.
-On May 13, 2008 Judge Cassidy issued an order for a telephonic hearing on May 19, 2008. Rambana has this order.
-On May 19, 2008 the telephonic hearing was rescheduled for June 2, 2008 because the Judge missed the window Rambana had arranged for the hearing and it was not available by the time the Judge contacted his office.
-On June 2, 2008, Rambana planned for the rescheduled telephonic hearing but the Judge never called.
-On June 6, 2008, Judge Cassidy called and apologized. There had been an execution in Wilcox Prison on that date, and he said that the government had appealed his decision to terminate proceeding. Rambana told me, “We had no idea about what he was talking about.”
-On June 11, 2008 I published a post on my blog about Rambana's client and contacted someone in a government office that oversees ICE. This person made some inquiries into the matter.
-Late on June 11, 2008, Judge William Cassidy issued an order terminating removal proceedings. The order states that on May 13, 2008 he had issued a previous termination order and that ICE had appealed this order. The June 11 statement makes no reference to Judge Cassidy's August 31, 2006 termination order
David remains in prison and is completely confused. “He doesn't understand why he's still there because he was supposed to be paroled in February, 2006.”
Afternoon of 6/13, from the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) timeline. An EOIR officer looked into David's case and sent me this:
"-0n 08/31/06, an immigration judge terminated Mr. Fernandez-Armedariz’s case.
-On 09/29/06, the Department of Homeland Security appealed the immigration judge’s decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals.
-On 03/10/08, the Board of Immigration Appeals remanded the case back to the immigration judge.
-On 06/11/08, the immigration judge terminated the case."
EOIR records at the very least prove that Judge Cassidy altered the timeline of his decisions and ICE appeals in his 6/13/08 decision. And they show that David was falsely imprisoned at the very least from 8/31/06 until 9/29/06, and possibly much longer, depending on whether ICE actually did file an appeal and if was legal for them to hold him while it was pending and without notifying his attorney that this was happening.
ICE and the immigration courts are turning the Constitutional protections of US citizens' liberty into a perverse parlor game of backdating, postdating, and lying about who is in custody, why people are in custody, and when they should be released. The underlying legal and political problem remains: A US citizen was held by ICE the Georgia Department of Corrections because of ICE removal proceedings from February, 2006 until June 11, 2008. As everyone knows, including ICE, ICE has no jurisdiction over US citizens.
David is presently under the control of the Georgia Corrections Department, but his attorney, Rambana, believes they have illegally altered the conditions of his parole from those given in February 2006 and is demanding David's immediate release. Unfortunately, the unlawful conflation of ICE detention with the prison system means that someone with an expertise in immigration law now must maneuver the criminal justice system as well.
The people who should really need criminal lawyers are not be US citizens in illegal detention, but the government thugs violating Congressional mandate of ICE as well as the Constitution and civil rights laws by falsely imprisoning US citizens and other legal residents. Who will be the first US attorney to step up and charge one of these ICE agents with their crimes? (And what is the penalty, if any, for a judge lying about his previous decisions in his own order?)