Could an American citizen actually be targeted for deportation by federal immigration officials? Unfortunately, this highly disturbing thing does happen far more often than most people realize. Recently, a San Bernardino man was wrongfully detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). As was reported by the Los Angeles Times, Sergio Carrillo, landscaper and contractor from Rialto, California, was handcuffed in the parking lot of a hardware store when immigration officials ordered him to the ground.
According to Mr. Carrillo, he repeatedly told the officers that they were making a huge mistake. He informed them that he was an American citizen. Yet, immigration officials scoffed at his claims. Mr. Carrillo was taken into custody and ICE officers opened up a deportation case against him. It took nearly four days for the agency to recognize its error.
The ACLU Filed a Wrongful Arrest Lawsuit
At the time of the arrest, Sergio Carrillo had already been an American citizen for more than 20 years. In its computer records, immigration officials could see that he was born in Mexico, however there was no indication regarding his current immigration status. Instead of seeking clarity on the issue, ICE simply decided to send out agents to arrest him. It is now clear that the agency committed serious misconduct in this case. Soon after the arrest, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit against the agency on behalf of Sergio Carrillo. There is no question that his rights were violated by immigration officers. On November 29th, 2017, that lawsuit was settled, and the United States government agreed to pay Mr. Carrillo $20,000 in compensation for the wrongful arrest and detainment.
The Targeting of American Citizens is a Major Problem
While this case is shocking, sadly it is far from unique. According to reporting from the Los Angeles Times, ICE records indicate that the agency has incorrectly identified more than 2,800 U.S. citizens as being eligible for deportation since 2002. In some cases, the agency has fixed the issue before actual enforcement action was taken, yet, more than 200 American citizens have actually been taken into custody by federal immigration officials. This is a very serious problem, and it is one that affects American citizens of Latin American origin at a highly disproportionate rate. As was stated by the ACLU in its complaint against ICE, Mr. Carrillo was almost certainly unlawfully targeted simply due to the fact that he was born in Mexico.
Contact Our Deportation Attorneys Today
At the Goldstein Immigration Lawyers, we are committed to protecting the legal rights of immigrants and their families. If you or a loved one is facing potential deportation, we can help. To set up a fully confidential legal consultation, please contact us today. Our firm is located in Los Angeles and we represent immigrants throughout Southern California, including in Oxnard, Inglewood, Long Beach, Camarillo and Thousand Oaks.