In a piece published on the Huffington Post, Jacqueline Stevens, author of the forthcoming States without Nations: Citizenship for Mortals, recounts the remarkable case of Mark Lyttle, a U.S. citizen who was temporarily deported. (For more on the Mark Lyttle case you can also visit Stevens’s excellent blog, also called “States without Nations.”)
As Stevens shows, through a series of bureaucratic and administrative miscues and cover-ups, Mark Lyttle, who has a history of mental illness, found himself sent to Mexico despite the fact that his citizenship is easily verifiable. What is even more astounding is that Lyttle’s case is hardly unique:
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been deporting over a million people each year. Most are Mexican citizens residing here without legal status. But thousands of those being detained and even deported are US citizens.
This sounds unbelievable, and it should…. Even more shocking are the several thousand of US citizens each year who are not only detained, but also deported. This occurs either because of ICE bullying, a fear of indefinite detention, or because the US government gave their US citizen parents, mostly of Mexican ancestry, incorrect information about their legal status and issued them green cards instead of telling them they were US citizens at birth.
Stevens concludes her post by asking how these types of deportations can be stopped:
ICE and the Department of Justice assumes everyone in detention is an alien and does not afford them the rights of US citizens. This is wrong for legal residents who are also unlawfully deported and it is obviously unconstituional and illegal to do this to US citizens. The solution? Pro bono attorneys must be available to the legally fragile population of detainees, many of whom are thousands of miles from families who are not told of their location. If the US government will not pay for this, then it needs to close the detention centers. The daily violation of the most sacred right a US citizen has, the right of citizenship itself, including at minimum the right not to be kidnapped and made stateless by one’s own government, must stop.