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Watchdog says ICE may have deported up to 70 US citizens and arrested hundreds more in recent years

GAO said in its findings that it conducted the investigation after US citizens “alleged that they were falsely arrested or deported by ICE and held by CBP on administrative immigration charges. Such fees are based on civil violations of US immigration law, but these fees do not apply to US citizens. ”According to the results,“ ICE data shows that ICE arrested 674, arrested 121, and 70 potential US citizens from fiscal 2015 to second quarter of fiscal 2020, "said the GAO.

In just one example in 2019, then 18-year-olds Francisco Erwin Galicia was wrongly detained in two different immigration detention centers for nearly a month. He said officials tried to torture him into signing a paper consenting to deportation. "They said they were going to charge me," he said MSNBC's Chris Hayes after his release "insulted me into signing my deportation warrant and well, it was all psychological damage."

GAO said, "The ICE policy requires officers to interview anyone claiming US citizenship in the presence of or in consultation with a supervisor, but the educational materials instruct officers to stop interviewing if the officer does believes the person is the person and the evidence suggests that the person is a US citizen – without consulting a supervisor. ”Galicia had submitted documents showing that he was born in the United States. The officers arrested him anyway.

“Studies have shown time and again that both ICE and CBP have a documented history of racial profiling and racism in their ranks, ”reported Immigration Impact. "As a result, People of Color are often the target of these unjustified enforcement actions."

In another example, the year before Galicia was arrested, ICE worked with the Monroe County Sheriff's Office in an attempt to deport US-born Florida citizen Peter Sean Brown to Jamaica. Brown had never heard of ICE before, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. When he protested that he was born in the United States and asked to show his birth certificate, the sheriff's office “completely ignored him. Neither of them helped him release his detention or verify his claims, even though Peter was listed as a US citizen on the prison's own records. Many officials even mocked him, telling him in a Jamaican accent that everything 'will be fine'. "

Immigration Impact notes that a US citizen, New Yorker Davino Watson, was jailed by ICE for three years. No one, regardless of their immigration status, should be subjected to these conditions. “Despite this clear violation of ICE protocol, an appeals court found that Watson was not eligible for financial compensation for his unjustified arrest and detention. The limitation period had expired. "

"Watson's devastating experience is one of the thousands of unjust immigration policies that are carried out each year – for both US citizens and non-citizens," concluded Immigration Impact. "ICE and CBP need to update their systems to better track citizenship investigations before more people are falsely targeted for arrest or deportation." However, the Biden government also needs to address systemic abuses by ICE and CBP.

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