Not a Lexis+ subscriber? Try it out for free.

Immigration Law

No Apologies, But Feds Pay $350K to Deported American Citizen

Professor/blogger Jacqueline Stevens writes:

"Andres Robles was 19 years old in 2008 when Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in Louisiana ignored his claims of U.S. citizenship, as well as their own files that readily affirm this status, and deported him to Mexico for three years.  

Eventually U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) saw fit to issue him a Certificate of Citizenship, but 
there was a problem.  Since the government had deported him, the government could not provide him with the certificate, government employee Jonathan Crawford, New Orleans Field Director, helpfully pointed out:

Your N-600 Application for a Certificate of Citizenship was approved on June 15, 20011 [sic]. You derive [sic] citizenship on June 13, 2002, when your father became a naturalized citizen of the United States. However, since you were deported from the United States, we are unable to complete the N-600 application process and provide you with a certificate of citizenship.

Upon your return to the United States, please make an appointment at the USCIS office closest to your current location. At that time, the local office will be able to assist you in obtaining your certificate of citizenship.

[Despite a] letter confirming his U.S. citizenship, a Vice Consul with the U.S. Department of State denied Andres a U.S. passport document. In his denial letter, the Vice Consul stated: "[I]t does not appear that you have a claim to U.S. citizenship[.]”

Andres eventually made his way back in, thanks to the persistence of immigration attorney Larry Fabacher, who had to badger the U.S. government for months after the USCIS confirmed Andres's U.S. citizenship.

Just days after Andres returned to the United States with a U.S. passport card in August 2011, ICE issued ANOTHER immigration detainer against him, causing several more days of illegal detention.

The errant paper trail ICE created and then failed to correct apparently prevented Andres from obtaining a Social Security card, Louisiana Driver's License, and the everyday benefits citizens derive therefrom.  Following several unsuccessful efforts by his older sister, Maria, to obtain legal counsel seek remediation, civil rights attorney Andrew Free, who represents the Deportation Research Clinic in our FOIA litigation,stepped in at the request of the Clinic and filed suit.

Extensive discovery ensued, including revelations that the government was well aware of their mistake and were doing nothing to remedy it.  Finally, 
on May 1, 2015, the United States Government agreed to correct Robles's records of all references to his "alienage" and deportation, and to pay Andres $350,000 in damages.

Absent such an intervention, U.S. government records would have recorded Andres's deportation as that of one more "criminal alien."  The lawsuit not only provides Andres well-deserved compensation, it also corrects the record, a key objective for the forensic intelligence paradigm that guides the Deportation Research Clinic scholarship. Lawsuits such as these provide data necessary for accurate scholarship and journalism on U.S. deportation policy; they highlight the criminal misconduct perpetrated by the government in contrast with putative civil infractions of immigration law Immigration and Customs Enforcement is authorized to prevent."