ICE Facing Embarrassment After Mistakenly Detaining a US Citizen for Deportation

When Peter Brown turned himself in at the sheriff’s office, he had no idea that instead of returning home with a court date for a probation violation, the US citizen was informed  ICE flagged him as an undocumented immigrant from Jamaica.

ICE wanted to deport him, and asked through an immigration detainer that he be held in custody until federal authorities could arrest him. Mr. Brown offered to provide proof of his American citizenship again and again, he wrote repeated letters to the sheriff. Deputies even had the proof in their own records. Instead of being released, Mr. Brown said he was mocked by deputies.

Mr. Brown’s detention this time was part of a new ICE pilot program launched in February that gives $50 to local police forces for each immigrant detention request.

Mr Brown’s experience illustrates the dangers posed by this kind of cooperation between federal and local authorities to deport people. These requests have been used frequently since the beginning of the Obama administration. Immigration lawyers say the $50 payments take legal responsibility off of local law enforcement.

The constitutionality of the detainers has been questioned by courts, who found that it violates the fourth amendment of the constitution, which says probable cause is required for search, seizure and arrest.



Photo: “Prison Bars” by Michael Coghlan is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0