A project of the Center for Community Change

On Thin ICE

By Jacqueline Stevens, The Nation. Posted June 10, 2008.

“I documented thirty-one cases from across the country of US citizens, eight born here, incarcerated as aliens for one month to five years. Fourteen were deported. Five remain in detention.”

A headline in the San Francisco Chronicle screams, 900 Nabbed in State on Immigration Charges. The Seattle Times reports, Feds Combing Jails for Illegal Immigrants. An AP article declares, Immigration Raid in Iowa Largest Ever in US and reports 390 arrests. In 2007, more than 276,912 US residents were deported. Thanks to a recent Bush Administration crackdown, the net cast by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) is wide–so wide, it turns out, that some of those being deported are US citizens.

Is ICE an efficient law enforcement agency? Or, in the words of Robert, 38, a US citizen twice deported to Mexico, is ICE “just throwing us out for nothing”?

Consider what happened to Peter Guzman. Last year Guzman, a US citizen born in Los Angeles in 1977, drove onto the tarmac of a regional airport in his hometown of Lancaster, about eighty miles northeast of Los Angeles, boarded a charter plane without a ticket and refused to get off. Guzman was arrested and sentenced, and served forty-one days in a Los Angeles County jail. According to his lawyer, Mark Rosenbaum of the Southern California ACLU, Guzman was excited about being released in time for his brother’s July wedding in Las Vegas. “It was a big deal to Peter. He was going to be the best man.” It never occurred to Guzman that in July he’d be eating garbage and bathing in the Tijuana River.

But on May 11, 2007, he called his family and said he’d been deported. According to the ACLU lawsuit, before his sister-in-law could find out exactly where he was and give him instructions, the line was cut. She overheard him ask, “Where am I?”

Read the full article here.

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