Lawsuit Claims ICE Deported Mentally Ill U.S. Citizen

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Thursday, October 14, 2010 at 9:11 am

The ACLU is accusing immigration authorities of disregarding the rights of the mentally ill in a lawsuit filed Wednesday alleging Immigration and Customs Enforcement wrongfully deported a U.S. citizen to Mexico. The man, Mark Lyttle, spoke no Spanish and is actually of Puerto Rican descent, but reportedly caught the attention of ICE when he told prison officials he was born in Mexico. Although Lyttle provided ICE with his Social Security number and the names of his parents, his lawyers claim immigration officials manipulated him into eventually signing documents that allowed him to be deported.

The ACLU says Lyttle’s story is one of many instances of the detention system failing to provide additional aid for mentally ill detainees, who it says can often sign away their rights without realizing what they are doing. Human rights organizations argue that abuses within the immigration detention system are particularly difficult to track because victims are eventually deported and have little access to legal aid.

The ACLU is suing on Lyttle’s behalf for damages after he allegedly spent four months living on the streets in Mexico and Central America before eventually returning to United States. The AP summarized his case:

Immigration agents “coerced and manipulated” Lyttle more than once into signing false statements saying he was a citizen of Mexico and agreed to be deported, the suit says.

The lawsuit contends the agents searched databases on Lyttle’s criminal history and repeatedly came up with records showing his Social Security number. [...]

In October 2008, Lyttle was sent to an immigration detention facility in south Georgia and interviewed by another agent. That interrogation form “accurately reflected that Mr. Lyttle was ‘a native of United States and a citizen of United States,’” but the agent still said Lyttle could be deported because of criminal convictions.

An immigration judge ordered Lyttle deported in December 2008 without letting him present evidence or deny he was Mexican, the lawsuit says.

His lawyers say Lyttle was then flown to Texas and “forced to disembark and sent off on foot into Mexico, still wearing the prison-issued jumpsuit.”

A spokesman for the Department of Justice told the AP the government would respond in court, while ICE and DHS spokesmen declined to comment.

What should ICE do to better handle mentally ill detainees, according to the ACLU? First of all, the organization wants mandatory counsel for all detainees with mental disabilities. Immigrant detainees are not automatically provided counsel because deportation is a civil action, not a criminal one. While there are pro bono immigration lawyers, many detainees do not know how to access them or are housed too far away from pro bono clinics, according to human rights groups.

ICE is in the midst of an overhaul of its detention system, but the ACLU and other groups have charged it is moving too slowly.

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16 Comments

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Joelwisch2
Comment posted October 14, 2010 @ 3:41 pm

1. Mental illness has been the biggest dodge for criminal conduct in the history of humanity. No matter what the mental condition of the person, we know they will involve themselves in the process of criminal conduct, and THAT means the people need protection.

2. I read the account by the local newspaper of the arrest and deportation of this person.. Mark Lyttle. While Ms. Foley is a righteous defender of the illegal aliens, the cost of satisfying the ACLU Demands would make the law enforcement processes totally unacceptable. If we want open borders, we would comply with all the demands of the ACLU.

But, the claim by the ACLU.. “The ACLU says Lyttle’s story is one of many instances of the detention system failing to provide additional aid for mentally ill detainees..” is ludicrous. Is.. LUDICROUS. Deputies in the incarceration system are well aware of the major symptoms of mental illness, and on this side of a million dollar analysis of each prisoner coming through the system, we must count on those deputies to do the job of protecting us from those folks sent north by Mexico. And sending them back to their homelands where they can be dealt with by their own country is the very best thing to do with those folks. And that is the best thing for the American Taxpayer and the person involved.

In the case of Lyttle, read the original reports.. which were sympathetic to Lyttle, and you discover the issue needs to be OUT of the Press and before a Judge. With a little luck, the American People will recover some of their money for this idiots claim and conduct.


youmustbejoking
Comment posted October 14, 2010 @ 8:57 pm

If he is a US citizen- born here and NOT from Mexico then he should not have been deported no matter what his criminal history. Did you not get that part of the story? He isn't of Mexican descent, he is of Puerto Rican descent, but all that doesn't matter if he is legally a citizen of the United States and was sent to another country. That is a pretty big “mistake” to deport a US citizen and then to send him to the wrong country. There is something that doesn't meet the smell test going on with ICE when they do that to an American citizen.


Saywhat?
Comment posted October 14, 2010 @ 11:03 pm

Umm…are you sure you read the same article that I did?

1. Mark Lyttle is a U.S. citizen. Period. U.S. citizens cannot under law, and should not, be deported regardless of what crime they may have committed. If Lyttle were to be “sent back to his homeland where he can be dealt with” as you suggest that would be the United States. Because, that's right, he's a U.S. citizen.

2. Lyttle was in deportation proceedings which happen in a CIVIL administrative court. In that court, you are not appointed an attorney. Mark Lyttle was not trying to dodge responsibility for criminal conduct and he wasn't even in criminal court. Because, again, as the article mentions he was in a civil proceeding where an administrative immigration judge decides if you, by law, have the right to remain in the United States. Mark Lytlle has the right to remain in the U.S. because he, like me and I imagine you, is a U.S. citizen. I am not sure how much clearer the writer of the article needs to be about this…


youmustbejoking
Comment posted October 15, 2010 @ 5:21 am

One has to wonder about the level of comprehension in some posters, doesn't one? I thought the article was very clear but evidently it was about as clear as mud to Joel.


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