Marine vet was slated for deportation until ICE realized he was a citizenJanuary 18, 2019
A Marine veteran was slated for deportation by ICE — until the immigration agency realized he was a US citizen.
The American Civil Liberties Union demanded Wednesday that Kent County, Mich., and the sheriff’s office investigate how decorated war vet Jilmar Ramos-Gomez was handed over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement and nearly kicked out of the country.
Ramos-Gomez, 27, who was born in Grand Rapids, Mich., and served in Afghanistan, was held at an ICE detention center in Calhoun County between Dec. 14 and Dec. 17, awaiting the deportation process, the ACLU said.
“I was shocked,” Richard Kessler, a lawyer who helped secure the vet’s release, told the Washington Post. “Everybody knows that Jilmar is a US citizen and Marines vet.”
After enlisting in the Marines after high school, Ramos-Gomez served between 2011 and 2014 as a lance corporal and tank crewman, earning three medals and a combat action ribbon.
But he came back suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, the ACLU said.
“He has episodes where he disappears and when he is found again, he often has no recollection of where he has been,” the organization said.
On Nov. 21, cops arrested Ramos-Gomez for allegedly breaking into a hospital, setting a fire and pulling an alarm. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor trespassing charges and was ordered to be released from Kent County Correctional Facility on Dec. 14.
But when his mom, Maria Gomez, came to pick him up, she was told he’d been transferred to the immigration detention center in Calhoun County.
“I almost had a heart attack when I heard that my son was in Immigration’s hands,” Gomez told local outlet WOOD-TV Wednesday. “They don’t care what he did for his country. That makes me mad.”
It’s unclear why the jail handed Ramos-Gomez to ICE instead of releasing him, as was required by the court order.
The Kent County Sheriff’s Office said they were reviewing the case but claimed they hadn’t violated any policy.
Because Kessler worked on a case to secure temporary residence for Ramos-Gomez’s mother, who is from Guatemala, he had her son’s birth certificate and Social Security information.
“I immediately called ICE and shouted at them,” he said. “And they called me back and said, kind of, ‘Oops, yeah, come and get him.’ They didn’t say, ‘Our bad,’ but kind of implied that.”
ICE said Ramos-Gomez “repeatedly claimed to be a foreign citizen unlawfully present in the United States,” according to the local outlet.
But it’s unclear why they didn’t verify on their own whether he was a citizen.
“I think it’s racial stereotyping,” Kessler said. “And it should have been evident that he had pretty significant mental health issues.”
The veteran currently is being treated at a mental health facility, Kessler said.
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