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American spends 51 days in detention before being deported

When someone is picked up in Lancaster County and held for a suspected immigration violation, it may be for some of the most minor of offenses. Someone could be pulled over for speeding and arrested for driving without a license. For that, he or she could be detained for a considerable amount of time before finally being released or, worse, deported. All of this for driving without a driver's license.

It is not entirely clear why an American citizen was originally detained by police, but he was turned over to the federal department responsible for immigration enforcement, Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He was held for 51 days before being sent to a removal hearing and deported from the country.

Many people reading this may be confused as to how an American citizen could be detained for an immigration violation and deported. Legally, no American can, but when the government seems to think you are a Mexican immigrant, despite not speaking any Spanish, never having been to Mexico and having no  Mexican heritage, it can. It is still not entirely clear how the government confused him with someone else, especially because there was considerable evidence that proved the man was an American citizen.

After he was sent across the border with very little money in his pocket, it took him 125 days to find an American consular officer who would listen to his story and look into whether he was the citizen he claimed to be. After a short call to one of the man's brothers, it was clear that the government had wrongfully detained and deported one of its own citizens.

Source: ACLU, “Yes, the U.S. Wrongfully Deports Its Own Citizens,” Esha Bhandari, April 25, 2013

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Law Office of Troy J. Mattes, P.C.
132 East Chestnut Street
Lancaster, PA 17602

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