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American-born citizen held on belief of undocumented status

When immigrants are arrested in Pennsylvania, they may find themselves in a dangerous situation and fighting to stay in the country with their friends and families. For those people who entered the United States illegally, there is a very real threat that they will be deported and will need strong deportation defense lawyers to explain what options they have going forward. It appears, however, that it is not just immigrants that may be in this situation, however, but also American-born citizens.

In 2008, a man was arrested after his colleague sold cocaine to an undercover police officer in Allentown, Pennsylvania. While under arrest, the Allentown police officers believed that he was an undocumented immigrant from the Dominican Republic. He tried to show them his driver's license, his Social Security card and repeatedly told them that he was born in the United States, but the officers reported him to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. ICE requested that the Lehigh County Prison hold the man for three days before they finally realized that what he was saying was true -- he is an American citizen.

The man says that the officers assumed he was an immigrant because he is Latino and that he had been a victim of racial and ethnic profiling. In an effort to rectify the situation, he has filed a civil rights lawsuit. Though he came to a settlement with the government, he still wants to hold the county jail responsible for his detainment. At trial, the federal judge refused to hold the jail liable, saying that it did not discriminate against him. The man, however, argues that an immigration detainer is not mandatory and the county jail was not required to hold the man in custody until ICE agents arrived.

Eventually, the man was acquitted of the criminal charge that first landed him in jail.

Source: Fox News Latino, "US Citizen Mistaken for Undocumented and Jailed Wages Court Fight," Nov. 12, 2012

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