ACLU demands investigation after US citizen held by ICE for possible deportation

ACLU demands investigation after US citizen held by ICE for possible deportation

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is calling for an investigation after they say Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) improperly held a U.S. citizen and Marine veteran for possible deportation.

Jilmar Ramos-Gomez, 27, was held in an ICE detention center for three days at immigration authorities’ request, according to a statement from the ACLU released Wednesday.

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The decorated Marine lance corporal, who served in Afghanistan, was in the Kent County, Michigan, jail in December after allegedly trespassing and damaging a fire alarm at a nearby hospital. He was later handed over to ICE, which the ACLU called “incomprehensible.” He had his passport on him at the time of his arrest, the ACLU said.

“Ramos-Gomez was born in Grand Rapids, grew up here, and bravely served out country in Afghanistan,” the ACLU said in a letter to the Kent County Sheriff’s Department.

“We are outraged, and demand that the Sheriff’s Department conduct an immediate investigation.”

The ACLU statement says that after pleading guilty to the trespassing charge, Ramos-Gomez was ordered released while awaiting a pre-sentence investigation, and should have been released by the Kent County Sheriff’s Department immediately.

“Instead, the Sheriff’s Department worked with ICE agents to enable his transfer to an immigration detention center in Calhoun County to start the deportation process,” the ACLU said. “It is unclear how that was possible or why the jail believed it should hand Mr. Ramos-Gomez over to ICE, rather than release him as required by the court order.”

“Why did they think he was a non-citizen?” ACLU attorney Miriam Aukerman said to CBS News. “Did they get him confused with someone else? Who knows.”

Kent County Undersheriff Chuck DeWitt told CBS News that the county followed their procedures. He said that he did not know if Ramos-Gomez protested when he was handed over to ICE.

“Once he was released from our custody, he was under the domain of ICE,” DeWitt said. “Where they take him is their process.”

Ramos-Gomez was released from the ICE detention center after three days, when a lawyer representing his family contacted the agency, according to CBS News.

ACLU attorneys noted in the letter that Ramos-Gomez suffers from PTSD, which they say played a role in the incident that led to his arrest.

“While what the Kent County Sheriff’s Department did to Mr. Ramos-Gomez is unfathomable, it is also utterly unsurprising,” the ACLU said, citing immigration advocates’ opposition to local authorities’ cooperation with ICE.

An automatic reply from an ICE spokesperson notified The Hill that public affairs officers at the agency are unable to respond to media inquiries due to the government shutdown.