Detention, near deportation of U.S. citizen gives ACLU reason to be concerned, attorney says

By Carrie Bradon | Dec 18, 2018

The ACLU of Florida said in a posting on its website that  it filed a federal lawsuit Dec. 3 on behalf of a U.S. citizen who was detained by the Monroe County Sheriff's Office on behalf Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). 

The detention of Peter Brown, a Florida resident who said he was a U.S. citizen but to no avail. is due to the collaboration of Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsey with ICE, a posting on said. Ramsey and several other Florida sheriffs are part of an ICE detention pilot program which pays the counties $50 for every individual they hold for ICE, the posting said.

Amien Kacou, staff attorney for the ACLU of Florida, recently talked with the Florida Record about the case and why ICE has been allowed to carry out such practices. 

"In running its aggressive deportation program, ICE often tries to cut corners," Kacou told the Florida Record. "For example, the agency does not hesitate to rely on notoriously unreliable immigration databases. In spite of this, too many local officials make the political choice to facilitate the agency’s efforts. ... The result is that a larger number of people become victim of unlawful immigration arrests."

Amien Kacou, Immigration Attorney with ACLU.   Courtesy of ACLU

In the case of Brown, he would have been deported to Jamaica until his friend came through with a copy of Brown's birth certificate proving his U.S. citizenship.

Though Brown was spared from deportation, many other individuals are being victimized and accused of illegal immigration status, even though they are legal U.S. citizens, a practice which ICE is only feeding into, Kacou said.

"ICE is a powerful agency despite its large record of abuses. But it relies on a large number of local officials who have no business acting like substitute ICE officers," Kacou said. "By holding those local officials accountable, we can limit ICE’s excesses."

In terms of the local law enforcement, Kacou said he believes that police officers need to think twice about what their working with ICE means.

"One way we can afford to hope for improvements is by pushing local officials to reconsider the legal consequences of their collaboration with ICE," Kacou said. 

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

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ACLU of Florida U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida

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