Even though Peter Sean Brown is an American citizen born Philadelphia, he was almost deported to Jamaica, despite only being in the country once on a cruise, the ACLU alleges. His crime? A probation violation in April, after he tested positive for marijuana.
According to a federal lawsuit filed Monday by several entities including the ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center, Brown repeatedly told police in Monroe County, Florida, that he was a U.S. citizen.
Instead, the authorities allegedly told him he would soon be deported to a Jamaican prison.
“The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office held him in jail so that ICE could try to deport him — even though he’s a U.S. citizen,” ACLU said in a statement.
The lawsuit is against the sheriff’s office for allegedly violating Brown’s 4th Amendment rights.
“His experience — being locked in jail away from his family, friends, and job to facilitate an illegal deportation — is a stark example of what can go wrong when local law enforcement does ICE’s bidding,” the ACLU statement continued.
Brown has never lived in Jamaica and knows no one there, according to the lawsuit. He's has lived in Florida for the past decade.
“Peter was terrified,” the ACLU wrote. “He knew almost nothing about Jamaica, having only visited the country once on a cruise. And yet Monroe County jail officers told him he was being sent to a Jamaican prison.”
The ACLU noted that Brown was “frantically telling jail officers he was a U.S. citizen and asked to show them his birth certificate. He filed multiple written grievances. He called ICE, but no one ever answered the phone. His manager at work called the jail attesting to Peter’s citizenship.”
Instead, the suit alleges he was held in detention illegally for three weeks before being transferred to the Krome immigrant detention center in Miami. He was eventually released from ICE custody after a friend sent a copy of his birth certificate to ICE, according to the suit.
The sheriff's office said in a statement cited by NBC News that it told Brown about the ICE detainer "approximately three weeks prior to his transfer to a federal detention center in Miami in an effort to give Mr. Brown and his attorney time to resolve the matter. Mr. Brown was detained for about 12 hours total on the ICE matter in the Monroe County Detention Center on Stock Island, before he was picked up by ICE.”
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