Migrant parents and their children aren’t the only ones caught in the crosshairs of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. Believe it or not, so are U.S. citizens like Peter Sean Brown, a resident of Florida Keys and a native of Philadelphia, Pa., who nearly ended up deported to Jamaica, the Miami Herald reports.
The incident occurred in April when Brown turned himself in to authorities after violating probation for smoking marijuana, but ended up detained by ICE agents and put on a list to be deported to Jamaica, he told the news outlet.
Now, with assistance from the American Civil Liberties Union, he is suing Florida’s Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay on charges of violating his constitutional rights, including locking him up for weeks at the request of ICE agents.
During that time, they worked to process paperwork to send him to Jamaica as he protested and argued that he was a legit U.S. citizen.
“The sheriff’s inmate file for Mr. Brown confirmed, in multiple places, that he was a U.S. citizen,” the suit reads. “The file lists his place of birth as “Philadelphia, Pennsylvania” in capital letters. This file was available to jail staff throughout Mr. Brown’s detention.”
During detainment, Brown alleged that guards mocked and teased him, calling him, “mon” in a Jamaican accent. Others sang the theme song to popular 1990s sitcom, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, because it mentions a line “West Philadelphia born and raised.”
For weeks, Brown sat in an ICE detention center until his friend sent Miami agents a copy of his birth certificate and he was released. But the damage was done, Brown argues, because he feared being deported to a Jamaican prison.
“I would never have expected in a million years that this would happen,” said Brown, in a video released by the ACLU along with a statement Monday.
“With policies like this and people implementing them like that, it’s only going to continue. There has to be a stop to it at some point before it becomes all of us.”
Amien Kacou, staff attorney with the ACLU of Florida, said, “The sheriff ignored our warnings and doubled down by signing on early to ICE’s latest sham — the BOA detainer scheme. With this lawsuit, we reaffirm that, regardless of ICE’s empty promises, Florida sheriffs will continue to be held accountable for doing the agency’s dirty work.”