As the current administration cracks down on immigrants, including those who reside in the United States legally, it has made at least one stunning mistake: Arresting, detaining and nearly deporting an American citizen who had the same name as an immigrant.
The 50-year-old man in question was born in Philadelphia, and has lived in the Florida Keys for a decade. In April, the Monroe County Sheriff’s office cooperated illegally with U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to arrest and deport him to Jamaica—a country the man had only ever visited while on a cruise. The man had never even heard of ICE until his detainment.
The victim has filed a lawsuit against the sheriff’s office, as have several major human rights organizations, including the ACLU of Florida. The ACLU of Florida claims that the sheriff’s office violated the victim’s Fourth Amendment rights. The Fourth Amendment protects U.S. residents, including undocumented immigrants, from illegal search and seizure.
A dangerous warning sign for immigrants—and citizens
This case of mistaken identity should horrify not only immigrants, but American-born citizens. It shows that ICE is determined to deport anyone they suspect of living in the country unlawfully—even if their detainee is a born citizen. It also shows that many county sheriff’s departments cooperate with ICE to identify, hunt, arrest, detain and deport Florida residents.
Anyone who faces detention or deportation at the hands of local authorities or ICE must understand that they have rights that are protected by the U.S. Constitution. Even if you are an undocumented immigrant living unlawfully in Florida, you have the chance to defend yourself from deportation. If ICE detained you and you believe that the agency acted unlawfully, you do have legal recourse, and you may be entitled to financial compensation.