Thursday, April 23, 2009

U.S. Citizen Deported to Mexico, Shipped to Guatemala, Now Held in Jail

(For an updated account, after speaking with Mark and his mother, Jeannie, please go here.)

Neil Rambana, an attorney in Florida who'd reported an earlier case of a client of his that ICE had misclassified as a noncitizen, is helping another US citizen, Mark, in the middle of a surreal and excruciating experience with the DHS. [Added 4/24/09 Immigration Judge William Cassidy in Atlanta wrongfully deported Mark on December 9, 2008 to Mexico, and from there he ended up in Guatemala via Nicaragua before returning to the U.S. on Tuesday, only to be arrested by DHS at the airport.]

Mark's family first learned he was in Guatemala when he called his brother, Tommy, last Friday from the US Consulate. The consular officer told Tommy that his adopted brother, born in North Carolina, was trying to return to the United States. The family contacted Rambana and he faxed a copy of Mark's adoption papers indicating his U.S. birth. That was good enough for the U.S. consulate to not only issue Mark a temporary U.S. passport, but to help him obtain a plane ticket for his return. But DHS only compounded their earlier injury once Mark arrived.

Instead of apologizing for their enormous mistake, DHS at the Atlanta airport accused Mark of illegal reentry and took him into custody. Rambana paraphrased what Mark was told, "Customs and border patrol say you have an order of deportation; you're reeentering after you've been deported."

Rambana has spoken to ICE agents in Atlanta and left messages, and has also spoken to the DHS desk attorney, who has the authority to dismiss charges and order Mark released.

DHS has ignored the legal presumption of US citizenship conferred by a US passport and falsely arrested Mark. So far no one has responded to Rambana's persistent requests for Mark's release.

As Neil and I were getting off the phone we talked about how odd it was that this sort of case had long stopped seeming unusual. I told him about some conversations I'd been having with a criminal attorney in Phoenix (will post soon) about the border patrol down there tearing up the birth certificates of Mexican-American teenage boys and judges deporting them, and then prosecutors charging them with illegal reentry. Neil said ruefully, "The worst part is that it's so outrageous that it's happening so often and beginning not to seem so outrageous."

(I sent the case information including the A number and Rambana's contact information to Barbara Gonzalez, an ICE spokeswoman who claims that ICE does not arrest U.S. citizens. Fingers crossed...)
UPDATE: Friday Morning, 4/24/09--Barbara Gonzalez was responsive. She called the ICE office in Atlanta and the DHS desk attorney to ask them to look into Mark's detention. Rambana sent me a note this morning saying that DHS is now acknowledging that Mark is a U.S. citizen and they are going to release him. I will be speaking shortly with his family.

UPDATE: Friday Noon, 4/24/09-- Mark is home with his mother. More tomorrow.

As I've written before, the only means of preventing US citizens and legal permanent residents from being wrongfully detained and deported, and not to deprive them of Constitutional rights to their citizenship and legal residence, is to provide everyone in deportation proceedings an attorney and the full due process protections of the U.S. Constitution. Under the U.S. Constitution, it is never legal to deport a U.S. citizen by mistake. Any laws, regulations, or DHS or DOJ practices with this effect must be stopped immediately, including the mandatory criminal alien deportation law.

In some cases the agents involved should not only be fired, but charged with kidnapping and false imprisonment.

One final note: Last year, when I was writing an article for The Nation about US citizens being deported, I sent ICE public affairs spokespersons Brandon Alvarez-Montgomery, Viriginia Kice, and Lori Haley documents indicating that Rene Saldivar, a US citizen, was being wrongfully detained in Eloy, Arizona. I was testing their statements that ICE did not knowingly detain US citizens. ICE failed. This time, although DHS in Atlanta ignored Mark's passport and arrested him, the ICE public affairs person in DC, Barbara Gonzalez, followed up on my inquiry and Mark was released.

It seems that DHS is finally acknowledging that its agents do arrest US citizens, the first step to ending not only the wrongful detention of U.S. citizens, but the archaic practice of banishment. The problem of US citizens being deported is a headline grabber, and that's unfortunate unless the complexities and traumas of the inane U.S.-Mexican border, indeed of any border, are understood as the main narrative driving the story.

The first deportations from England to the colonies were not criminals but vagrants, English nationals who were "caught" outside their parishes of birth. The thought was that if left uncontrolled, the free movement of peasants and paupers would overwhelm the cities. The barbarity of punishing people for moving across a national border will strike future generations as ridiculous as it would seem now to ship people out of San Francisco for the crime of moving there from Omaha, Nebraska--a distance much further, in many ways, than the distance between Mexico and the southern United States.


Anonymous said...

And yet another law suite against immigration!!! --

Anonymous said...

Unbelievable! Someone should take these peoples jobs away from them for unlawfully deporting a US Citizen and then imprisoning them!!!!

Anonymous said...

It is worth noting that evidence of foreign birth shifts the burden to the individual to prove that they're a US citizen. Sometimes these acquisition, derivative claims are hard to prove. And sometimes they simply fail because the individual's parents fail to meet the elements of passing US citizenship to the individual. If you are interested, you should take a look at INA sections 301, 321 (former), and 320. When ICE detains someone who turns out to be a US citizen, it's not so egregious b/c it's not a case of ICE detaining someone who was clearly born in the US. If you're going to blog, you have to be fair. You should know this since you're an academic.

jacqueline stevens said...

Someone trying to defend the deportation of a U.S. citizen commented here that evidence of foreign birth shifts the burden of proof to the respondent. Yes, it does.

This person appears to be from ICE, something I'm inferring from an inability to follow the facts: Mark was born in Salisbury, North Carolina. North Carolina is in the United States. You don't need a PhD in geography to realize Mark was born in the United States. So the burden of proof is on ICE to show he was born abroad. I have given ICE Mark's waiver to discuss his case and still no one has explained the basis for his being called Jose Thomas and detained.

ICE regularly detains U.S. citizens born in the United States, including after the Customs and Border Patrol tears up birth certificates of Mexican-American teenage boys.

In other cases that have nothing to do with Mark's situation, being born abroad, as was Senator McCain, or deriving citizenship when one is a child, automatically makes one a natural born U.S. citizen. If there are problems proving this for people who are indigent, coming from jails without any documents, and not afforded any legal counsel, and being harassed and mistreated by individuals with the mentality of the person who wrote this note, then many natural-born U.S. citizens make a false statement that they are Mexicans and have no claim to U.S. citizenship. This is not evidence of anything except government coercion.

A recent Supreme Court decision said that confessions made after someone was held for more than six hours could not be used as evidence in a criminal matter, so how can it be considered evidence of citizenship when people sign these statements in a place where they're threatened with being held for months or years?

fpokiees said...

My son was born on a Naval Air Facility in Misawa Japan. We filed with the American Embassy, He traveled back to the U.S. on a U.S. passport. My husband and I are both citizens both in the U.S. Navy. We were stationed in Japan where we met and married, and later my son was born.

We had no problems with his "citizen born aboard" certificate until he needed special services at school. The school refused and we hired a lawyer. During this mess someone from the school reported to INS that our son was in the country illegally.

I went to INS with his documentation proving citizenship. The lady at the INS desk actually threw my documentation back at me, and it fell on the floor, she then threw a stack of papers at me and said "filed for citizenship, or have him naturalized", but added "But we don't have to approve it.+ I won't go into the exchange of words here.

We ignored the situation. From time to time we had threats from INS but they never followed through. Then came 9/11 After this INS and DHS got serious.

My son is autistic and receives services from the state DHS demanded proof of citizenship and his DD 1359 wasn't enough. I knew INS wouldn't help and at this point I was afraid they would detain him if I asked for help.

I called the state department. I was asked if he ever had a passport? Which he did, but it was lost during a transfer. The state department told us, to file for another passport. Only a U.S. citizen can obtain a U.S. passport.

However passports gave us a hard time because he couldn't sign his name. I offered to show them our custody papers but they wouldn't budge, they wanted a signature, and he counld only print his name.

When applying for the passport I had to sent the original DD 1359,)as required) my only proof of his citizenship. Passports threatened to keep it, all because he could not sign his name. At this point we had enough.

My husband told them, you have 48 hours to issue the passport and return the DD 1359, or tomorrows news will read, “Parents, disabled son deported while parents served their country” Passports overnighter the passport and his DD1359.

I never thought we would have so many problems, after all he was born on U.S. soil. Any U.S. base is U.S. soil. He was born to two U.S. citizens, both there on military orders serving their country.

Ex-Navy said...

"My husband told them, you have 48 hours to issue the passport and return the DD 1359, or tomorrows news will read, “Parents, disabled son deported while parents served their country” Passports overnighter the passport and his DD1359."

I think "tomorrow's news" should read that anyway. Well, only now it would be "threatened with deportation"

Anonymous said...

Freedom is not free, and its seriously under threat if you speak up

Zuleide Ribeiro Leonardo said...

The most intriguing part of the lack of capacity of US Legal Understanding by many work for ICE today is the part:
US Consul has cleared the American Citizen and ICE has not taken into consideration his order.
Usually and very often before the ICE team a Consular signature had ultimate respect concern immigration proceedings. Today, America is losing credibiltiy in all areas. Especially Law. How can you trust the US for Trades? If all written laws are been dismantled by ignorant workers?

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