Surprise! Aggressive Immigration Policy Ends Up Detaining Citizens, Too

The New York Timeshas an extremely sobering story this morning about the fact that the stringent Obama administration policy of detaining and deporting lawbreakers who don't have legal residency is affecting citizens, swept up in the net of the law.

One man found himself in custody after accidentally dropping a bottle of perfume in his bag when he was out shopping with multiple children--and no one believed him when he told them the truth, suggesting an unsurprising but depressing racist element to his pickup.

“I told every officer I was in front of that I’m an American citizen, and they didn’t believe me,” said Antonio Montejano, who was arrested on a shoplifting charge last month and found himself held on an immigration order for two nights in a police station in Santa Monica, Calif., and two more nights in a teeming Los Angeles county jail cell, on suspicion he was an illegal immigrant. Mr. Montejano was born in Los Angeles.

This is part of a larger pattern:

In a spate of recent cases across the country, American citizens have been confined in local jails after federal agents, acting on flawed information from Department of Homeland Security databases, instructed the police to hold them for investigation and possible deportation.

Americans said their vehement protests that they were citizens went unheard by local police and jailers for days, with no communication with federal immigration agents to clarify the situation. Any case where an American is held, even briefly, for immigration investigation is a potential wrongful arrest because immigration agents lack legal authority to detain citizens.

This is all under the Obama administration, which has increased deportations to the dismay of many--and keep in mind that all the GOP candidates have suggested even more aggressive policies.

Read the full story here.

AlterNet / By Sarah Seltzer

Posted at December 14, 2011, 5:13am

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