The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency has targeted and arrested U.S. citizens “repeatedly” since 2012, new reports unveil.
Overall, there have been 1,488 people who were unfairly apprehended within that period.
The Los Angeles Times investigation shows that ICE often relies on databases filled with incomplete, and oftentimes wrong, information. As such, officials will simply assume that anyone born outside of the United States is here illegally, unless the database states otherwise.
Perhaps, what’s more troubling is that once an American citizen is forced into an immigration court system, he or she must fight to prove there has been a mistake. This is a violation of the presumption of innocence, which is backed by the United States Constitution’s Fifth and 14th Amendments.
With nearly one-fifth of all citizenship claims of people in custody turning out to be true, the mistakes are an embarrassment, to say the least. But what’s worse is that in many of these cases, Americans who were imprisoned were forced to remain behind bars for months or even years.
While under custody, many of these citizens who could actually prove their citizenship through documentation were simply ignored, and others were repeatedly targeted long after being released.
Some of the victims, The LA Times found, included a landscaper whose son tried showing ICE agents his father’s U.S. passport, a New Yorker who was in jail for over three years after ICE thought his father wasn’t a citizen, and a housekeeper who was targeted twice by agents and who ended up spending a night in prison even though her husband had brought her U.S. passport to a court hearing.
With President Donald Trump’s administration pushing an aggressive anti-immigrant agenda, it is possible that the drive to find and deport a greater number of people might lead to more mistakes. Unfortunately, we are not going to know whether more wrongful arrests are being carried out until much later into Trump’s presidency. Still, the fact that ICE is known to make these mistakes because of its reliance on faulty databases should be enough to urge the federal government, and Congress, to investigate this matter deeply.
Banner/Thumbnail Credits: Courtesy Charles Reed/ICE via Reuters