The ACLU Said A US Citizen Was Transferred For Deportation & It Wants Answers

by Seth Millstein
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On Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) wrote a letter alleging that ICE detained Jilmar Ramos-Gomez, an American citizen, and marked him for deportation. Lawyers from the ACLU and the Michigan Immigrants Rights Center say the Kent County Sheriff's Office ignored a court order to release Ramos-Gomez and instead transferred him to ICE. Kent County denies that it had him transferred to ICE, however, saying in a statement that it was merely a "holding facility" in the situation. The Calhoun County Sheriff's Office "picked up" Ramos-Gomez, Kent County said, and was there detained by ICE.

Bustle has reached out to ICE, and the Calhoun County Sheriff's Office for comment.

According to the ACLU, Ramos-Gomez was born in Michigan, enlisted in the Marines after high school, and served in Afghanistan between 2011 and 2014. Representatives from the ACLU and the Michigan Immigrants Rights Center wrote in the letter to Kent County that Ramos-Gomez suffered from severe post-traumatic stress and related mental illness after returning home, often disappearing for periods of time and having no recollection of where he went.

In November, Ramos-Gomez was arrested and jailed in Kent County after allegedly trespassing at a hospital and destroying a fire alarm, the ACLU says. He pleaded guilty and was ordered to be released on Dec. 14; however, in circumstances that are under dispute, he was instead transferred to an ICE facility and detained.

In its letter, the ACLU said that Kent County officials facilitated the transfer of Ramos-Gomez to ICE. However, the Kent County Sheriff's Office put out a statement Tuesday disputing this, claiming that the Calhoun County Sheriff's Office picked up Ramos-Gomez and he was subsequently detained by ICE.

ICE marked Ramos-Gomez for deportation and held him for three days, the ACLU says, before eventually releasing him. The ACLU has demanded that the Kent County Sheriff's Department launch an investigation into its actions regarding Ramos-Gomez, and also release all documents pertaining to his jailing and release to ICE officials.

In a statement to Bustle, ACLU attorney Miriam Aukerman says:

Instead of honoring his service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement tried to deport a U.S. citizen and decorated Marine combat veteran, and local authorities made that possible. This terrible incident is the predictable consequence of two things: ICE’s reckless, no-holds-barred approach to immigration enforcement, and local law enforcement’s willingness to blindly facilitate ICE’s deportation efforts in their communities.
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"It is incomprehensible that the [Kent County] Sheriff’s Department turned a vulnerable, mentally ill United States citizen over to ICE so that he could be deported from his country—a country for which he fought on the battle field," lawyers from the ACLU and the Michigan Immigrants Rights Center wrote in a letter to ICE. "Mr. Ramos-Gomez risked his life protecting the rest of us. When he needed mental health services as a result, our government failed him. And now, Kent County has further failed him by facilitating ICE’s efforts to illegally detain and deport him."

In its statement, however, Kent County said that it was Calhoun County officials who transferred Ramos-Gomez to ICE, and that there is "no indication of a violation of policy" by its officers.

Ramos-Gomez's case comes on the heels of several other scandals involving ICE, which has implemented harsher immigration measures since Donald Trump assumed the presidency. The agency drew international criticism when, under the orders of then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, it began separating immigrant children from their parents and detaining the children in cages. Trump faced immense pressure to end the policy and eventually did; over four months later, however, there were still immigrants being separated from their parents, The Washington Post reported in October.

In addition, there have been multiple reports of immigrants being sexually assaulted in ICE facilities, and the agency drew even more condemnation in December when, over the course of one month, two immigrant children died in its custody.

In their letter to ICE, lawyers for the ACLU and Michigan Immigrant Rights Center demanded that Kent County complete a report on Ramos-Gomez's detention and present it at a previously-scheduled Kent County Commission meeting on Jan. 24.