On Dec. 14, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detained Jilmar Ramos-Gomez, a 27-year-old, Marine veteran, born and raised in Michigan, and almost had him deported. You did read that correctly, but just one more time for the people in the back: ICE detained an American citizen that served his country in Afghanistan.
The story is now coming to light thanks to his legal representation and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan.
“I was shocked,” Richard Kessler, an immigration lawyer told The Washington Post. Kessler previously worked on a case regarding Ramos-Gomez’s mother, and it was she who called Kessler for help. “Everybody knows that Jilmar is a U.S. citizen and a Marines vet.”
When he found out ICE had him detained he “immediately called ICE and shouted at them,” Kessler 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.”
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It’s saddening to know how Ramos-Gomez was detained in the first place. According to the ACLU, Ramos-Gomez served honorably in Afghanistan, and received several awards including a national defense service medal, a global war on terrorism service medal, an Afghanistan campaign medal, and a combat action ribbon, among other awards. But when he returned home, like many other servicemen, he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.
The ACLU reports that because of his PTSD, Ramos-Gomez would sometimes run away, blackout, but would ultimately be located and returned home. It was during one of these episodes that Ramos-Gomez was arrested for tampering with a fire alarm at Spectrum Health (a healthcare company) and trespassing on the heliport. Ramos-Gomez had his U.S. passport on him when he was arrested, so they knew he was, in fact, a U.S. citizen. Ramos-Gomez plead guilty and a judge ordered that he be released on a personal recognizance bond, the ACLU reports. However, instead of being released, the Kent County Sheriff’s Department handed him over to ICE.
In a statement released to the public, the Kent County Sheriff’s Office called this matter a “very unfortunate situation.” They added: “We regret any circumstance in which an individual is detained needlessly regardless of whether the person is being held by local or federal authorities, and we believe this case underscores the need for immigration policy reform.”
The ACLU is demanding an investigation. “This terrible incident is the predictable consequence of the Sheriff’s Department’s decision to volunteer its resources to support ICE’s efforts to deport Kent County residents, a policy that the community has repeatedly and persuasively asked the Department to end.”
Kessler goes even further saying: “I think it’s racial stereotyping,” Kessler said to the Post. “And it should have been evident that he had pretty significant mental- health issues.”
Last year, The Los Angeles Times reported that since 2012 ICE has wrongfully detained 1,500 people. You know that number has only increased since then.