Tuesday, January 10, 2012

US Citizen Deported to Jamaica in 2005, Court Ruling Yesterday Gives Him A Way Back Home


According to a Ninth Circuit decision issued yesterday, Linden Winston Graham has presented material evidence that he was born on the U.S. Virgin Island of St. Croix and is thus a US citizen. The Ninth Circuit, for the reasons stated in the screen shot above, has thus remanded his case to a district court in Arizona, as well as suggested that the court consider returning Mr. Graham from Jamaica at government expense.

Here's an excerpt from a Jamaican newspaper in 2007, describing his ordeal after arriving, stateless, in a foreign country and then being locked up:

Graham, 48, appeared in the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate's Court yesterday after attorney Peter Champagnie filed a writ of habeus corpus on his behalf on Tuesday.

He told the court he was deported to Jamaica after serving nine years for a gun-related crime in a high security prison in Arizona, United States last year, but upon his arrival in Kingston it was discovered that he was not Jamaican.

"We questioned him and found out that he knew nothing about Jamaica. We are satisfied that he is not Jamaican," a police officer told the court yesterday.

For more on the case's background, from 2007, please read here.

Please note that the court is pointing out that the government is "unable or unwilling" to produce the only evidence that could support its position that Linden Winston Graham is an alias of Winston George Graham. Nonetheless, absent this evidence, an immigration judge and the BIA deported the guy! Especially because Mr. Graham is asserting he was born in the United States, the burden of proof to show otherwise would be on the government. Yet it appears that it had none, just the word of an ICE attorney and the black box of their data collection.

(A Department of Homeland Security database matches records with similar names and dates of birth; since the database contains millions of files, such a process will generate false positives. This is not "evidence" of anything but government stupidity and a poor understanding of probability on the part of the EOIR attorneys evaluating the case.)

Mr. Graham's plight, an egregious civil rights violation, is another reason for the courts to recognize that anyone in detention has a constitutional right to an attorney, and that if the respondent cannot afford this, then the government will appoint one.

The only difference between Mr. Graham and Jakadrian Turner is that she was a teenage girl. Both were born in the United States and both were deported on flimsy grounds that would never stand up in a real court for more than two seconds.

Now that the public is starting to pick up on the fact that the government deporting of US citizens is part of the deportation regime, there should be less complacency about continuing to make Mr. Graham fight for his citizenship. Instead of paying tens of thousands of dollars to keep a US citizen out, Janet Napolitano should be sending a first class plane ticket for Mr. Graham's immediate return to the United States.

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