Although Immigration and Customs Enforcement is attempting to implement a new policy that focuses its deportation efforts on criminals, the 2008 arrest of Anthony Clarke shows the disturbing nature of ICE's growing power and their lack of respect for one's right to due process.

Mr. Anthony Clarke is but one of 4,000 US citizens identified in a Northeastern University study that have been detained by ICE officials in recent years.  Mr. Clarke is a Jamaican immigrant who came to the United States as a teenager.  He was able to naturalize when his mother was granted citizenship in 1975.  In the mid-1990s, he was arrested for marijuana on four separate occasions for marijuana possession.  Although this would have been a deportable offense under INA 237 as a controlled substance violation for an immigrant, ICE officials failed to recognize that Mr. Clarke was a naturalized US Citizen.

Mr. Clarke spent 38 days in ICE custody.  Additionally, government records from both FBI and ICE at the time of his arrest indicated that he was a US Citizen.  Although he lived in Indiana, ICE chose to transport Mr. Clarke to South Dakota for his detention.  He is now fighting back as he is requesting over $1 million in damages from the US government.  In an interview with the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Mr. Clarke stated

"Here I am, a citizen ... I didn't know what to think or why they would do this to me." Clarke, a house painter, has lived in the Twin Cities since 1974. "All I've got to say is make sure you have your papers right -- which I thought I did -- and get a good lawyer. Mine is like a bodyguard now."


Unfortunately, Mr. Clarke's case isn't the one that has recently been highlighted by the press.  The New York Times highlighted how the Secure Communities Program has led to the detention of other U.S. Citizens.  The case of Mr. Montejero, a US Citizen born in Mexico, is particularly egregious.  Despite having his driver's license and other legal forms of identification on hand at the time of his arrest for petty theft, ICE had sent an immigration detainer to the local jail stating to hold Mr. Montejero so they can put him in removal proceedings.  It was only after the ACLU got involved and showed ICE his American passport and certificate of naturalization that he was released four days earlier.  


There is much cause for alarm with ICE's behavior.  Although the behavior of the FBI is often under scrutiny from the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security has clearly given ICE too much power in detaining immigrants.  Although ICE is now promising to investigate the arrest of Mr. Clarke and other naturalized US citizens, their repeated pattern of abuse must be stopped before it happens.  Additionally, Immigration Courts have an obligation to get involved.  Additionally, those detained by ICE that claim US citizenship upon arrest should have counsel provided at the government's expense.  While an individual in deportation hearings is not entitled to government funded counsel, an exception must be made here to protect the constitutional rights of all US Citizens.  With these safeguards, the government can try to make sure that cases such as Mr. Clarke don't happen again. 



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