US Citizens Arrested by ICE
Since 2012, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has released over 1,400 people from its custody after investigating their citizenship claims. In other words, ICE has arrested over 1,400 United States citizens since 2012, in the mistaken belief that those citizens were illegal immigrants.
In a study that the Los Angeles Times released last year, statistics were shown for the amount of U.S. citizens imprisoned by ICE and for how long each citizen was kept. The Study found that “the two groups most vulnerable to becoming mistaken ICE targets are the children of immigrants and citizens born outside the country.”
Renewed interest and awareness has been spotlighted on this issue in the last few weeks, as an 18-year-old U.S. citizen was kept in ICE custody for nearly one month, detained in late June, and finally set free in late July. The 18-year-old, Francisco Galicia, was born in the United States, and even had a wallet-sized Texas birth certificate to show the agents at the Texas border patrol checkpoint where he was stopped, but he was traveling with some without papers, leading the agents to mistakenly believe that his birth certificate and social security card were fraudulent.
Instances like Galicia’s and others prompted Senator Elizabeth Warren to request that the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security carry an investigation into Border Patrol and ICE detention of US citizens.
Among other things, Warren demanded to know the amount of times that ICE or U.S Customs & Border Patrol had detained U.S. citizens in the last five years and “what were the circumstances of these detentions.”
Hopefully the renewed awareness of this situation will prevent more United States citizens from being apprehended by the government that is supposed to protect them.
In our practice, we have been surprised by how many times we have come across the detention of U.S. citizens by ICE. Fortunately, in all cases they have been released back to their families. We hope that in the government’s zeal to round up illegal immigrants the number of US citizens mistakenly taken into custody does not increase.