50-year-old Peter Sean Brown was almost deported by a Florida Sheriff’s office and ICE, but he is a native-born American citizen.
According to the Mercury News, Key West resident Brown got himself into trouble when he tested positive for marijuana in April. Brown was then sent to jail, but his situation soon got much worse.
One day into his arrest by the Munroe County Sheriff’s Office, Brown received a form from Immigration and Customs Enforcement saying that he was to be held for removal from the US. The vague reason being unspecified “biometric information” contained in his fingerprint scans. Brown, who was born in Philadelphia in 1968, was instantly panicking.
“I am, and have always been, a citizen of the United States,” says Brown the video below which was created by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) after they heard his story.
Brown was told that ICE was preparing to deport him to Jamaica, a country that he’s never been to and has no social ties to. Even worse, Brown is gay and feared he would become a victim of a hate crime, like the man who was attacked by his own cousins while at a funeral.
Brown tried to tell the sheriff’s department that he was a U.S. citizen who could produce his birth certificate. A lawsuit filed against the Munroe County Sheriff’s Office states that several officers ignored Brown.
“It’s particularly stark just how many indications the sheriff had that Peter Brown was a U.S. citizen,” The ACLU told The Washington Post. “It doesn’t happen in every case that not only is the person telling everybody he can find and filing written complaints, but the sheriff’s own records have his citizenship and birthplace. Peter was very assiduous.”
The filed complaint states that Brown was not only ignored by jail employees at Munroe County, but mocked by them. One man sang the theme song to 90’s comedy Fresh Prince of Bel Air, one spoke in a fake Jamaican accent while Brown was transferred to the Krome Detention Center in Miami and allegedly said, “Yeah, whatever mon, everything’s gonna be alright,” and another allegedly commented that Brown would remain detained despite what his birth certificate said.
Brown eventually was released after he was transferred to Maimi and again pleaded that he was a US citizen. Thankfully, some officer at the Detention Center listened to Brown and allowed his roommate to email the Birth Certificate. Brown’s release was then scheduled.
Once released three weeks after his arrest, Brown was stranded in Miami, hours away from his home, and had lost his job. It took Brown two weeks to find another job.
Now, the ACLU is representing Brown in a lawsuit against Richard Ramsey, the sheriff for Monroe County. They accuse Ramsey and his employees of willingly detaining Brown in order to receive compensation from ICE through the “Basic Ordering Agreements” arrangement, which pays the police for extending detention of “criminal aliens.”
“Nobody should have to endure what he endured,” the complaint maintains. “He was kept in jail – away from his family, friends, and work- solely to facilitate his illegal deportation from the United States. The Sheriff’s Office ignored his pleas for weeks, mocked him, and led him to believe that he would soon find himself in a Jamaican prison. He suffered severe anxiety, fear, and trauma in the process.”