Deportation Research Clinic

U.S. Citizens Detained and Deported

For background, see "U.S. Government Unlawfully Detaining and Deporting U.S. Citizens," Virginia J. of Social Policy and the Law (2011), 115 pp.

The Deportation Research Clinic has assisted many U.S. citizens unlawfully detained or deported by the U.S. government and worked to bring their cases to the attention of the public.

Research Updates

  • Analysis of U.S. citizens in immigration court, and applying for Certificates of Citizenship, January 1, 2011 through June 9, 2017. Posted July 31, 2017.
  • Citizenship in Question: Evidentiary Birthright and Statelessness (Duke University Press, 2017), co-edited with Benjamin Lawrance.
  • April 14, 2016: Deportation Research Clinic prevails in Rule 60 motion for FOIA litigation attorney fees—retired judge had denied fees without hearing, plea for reconsideration with assent of U.S. Attorney granted. (Director obtains email from State Department officials who encounter deported U.S. citizen Mark Lyttle in Honduras and Guatemala.)
  • June 1, 2015: Analysis of U.S. Citizens ICE Unalwfully Detained or Banished Since January 1, 2011
    • New release of immigration court data reveals ICE still systematically detaining U.S. citizens
    • U.S. citizen Andres Robles, deported to Mexico, returns, wins record $350,000 settlement and government agreement to expunge records
    • Clinic FOIA attorney Andrew Free represents Robles; case first reported by Clinic Director Jacqueline Stevens.
  • Clinic research assistants Ary Hansen and Elizabeth Meehan analyze immigration judge misconduct data.  Agency supervisors ignore serious complaints if not from government.  Responses take hundreds of days, and recommend "oral counseling" or no response. Professor Heather Schoenfeld, School for Education and Social Policy and Legal Studies to co-author research article with J. Stevens.
  • "Citizenship In Question: Forensic Challenges of Birth, Blood, and Bureaucracy," co-edited with Benjamin Lawrance, based on conference convened by co-editors at Boston College Law School and co-sponsored and organized with Dan KanstroomRachel Rosenbloom, and Rogers Smith. Contributors narrate failures of signification for passports, certificates, and databases from Australia to Togo. Introduction draws on Jacques Derrida to suggest failures of a-scription and to reveal narrative strategies that empower arbitrary authorities at the expense of the people populating the identities government creates.
  • Remembered Intimacies and the Bona Fide Marrriage, funded by the Sexualities Project at Northwestern, IRB-approved sutdy, Charles Clarke, co-principal investigator. Study compares rate and character of non-matching answers on spousal green card interviews with rate and character of non-matching answers on "The Newlywed Game" television show.  (Premise of government interview is that non-matching answers about shared experiences reveals marriage fraud; premise of "Newlywed Game" is that bona fide couples will have non-matching answers.)

Individuals Detained and Deported

Lorenzo Palma

July 2015. Stevens encounters U.S. citizen Lorenzo Palma detained in Houston for over a year, finds documents, and works with Andrew Free to obtain termination order in February 2016. Clinic assistant Hayley Hopkins transcribed oral order for Palma to submit for U.S. passport.

For more information, see the States Without Nations blog.

(Photo: Lorenzo Palma (center), © NPR.)

Roberto Dominquez

Basinette tag for Roberto DominquezRoberto Dominquez was born in Lawrence, Massachussetts and thus a U.S. citizen at birth. Nonetheless, he was banished for ten years to the Dominican Republic.

In 2009, he obtained his U.S. passport and returned home. In 2011, after Roberto filed a lawsuit for his wrongful deportation, the State Department revoked his passport. After being approached by the Deportation Research Clinic, The Cardozo Law School Immigration Justice Clinic has been representing Roberto since September 2013, and has gone to federal court demanding his own government recognize him as a U.S.citizen. (The photo is of his original basinette tag.)

Copious additional documents tie plaintiff Roberto to the Roberto Dominguez on record as born on his birthday in the Lawrence Hospital. The U.S. government attorney will not return phone inquiries; the government answer conjures a world with two Roberto Dominguezes, both born in November 1979, both with parents at the same address, but one born in Lawrence, while the Plaintiff was born in Santo Domingo, and magically acquired the documents for the Roberto Dominguez born in the USA.

For more background on this case, please go here.

Andres Robles

Andres Robles was 19 years old in 2008 when Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in Louisana ignored his claims of U.S. citizenship, as well as their own files that readily affirm this status, and deported him to Mexico for three years.

Eventually U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) saw fit to issue him a Certificate of Citizenship, but there was a problem. Since the government had deported him, the government could not provide him with the certificate. Andres eventually made his way back in, thanks to the persistence of immigration attorney Larry Fabacher, who had to badger the U.S. government for months after the USCIS confirmed Andres's U.S. citizenship.

Just days after Andres returned to the United States with a U.S. passport card in August 2011, ICE issued ANOTHER immigration detainer against him, causing several more days of illegal detention. Following several unsuccessful efforts by his older sister, Maria, to obtain legal counsel seek remediation, civil rights attorney Andrew Free, who represents the Deportation Research Clinic in our FOIA litigation, stepped in at the request of the Clinic and filed suit.

Extensive discovery ensued, including revelations that the government was well aware of their mistake and were doing nothing to remedy it. Finally, on May 1, 2015, the United States Government agreed to correct Robles's records of all references to his "alienage" and deportation, and to pay Andres $350,000 in damages.

For more information on this case, please see here.

Esteban Tiznado

Esteban Tiznado, photographed by Border Patrol in Arizona desert after capture in 2011.In 2008, a jury found Esteban Tiznado Not Guilty of Illegal Reentry because of documents and testimony affirming his U.S. citizenship. Immediately after, ICE ignored the verdict and deported him. The Clinic obtained records under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and revealed that Citizenship and Immigration Services in the 1980s hid evidence that would affirm his U.S. citizenship.

Tiznado is presently living in the United States following Ninth Circuit remand of his case, but ICE still is trying to deport him and he is unable to obtain government documents and the consequent protections and rights of U.S. citizenship.  Al Jazeera documented his case in 2013. (Photo: Esteban Tiznado, photograph by Border Patrol in Arizona desert after capture on February 23, 2011.)

Mark Lyttle

United States citizen Mark Lyttle, deported to Mexico, collects $175,000 from settlement of lawsuit brought against the federal government. Clinic Director Jacqueline Stevens obtained Lyttle's file under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and brought his case to the ACLU.

Jhon Ocampo

United States citizen Jhon Ocampo, handcuffed at home and locked up in three Illinois deportation jails; Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents ignore his own statements about his U.S. citizenship. Held until lawyer, who provides no additional paperwork, calls the deportation jail. Clinic breaks story, covered in investigative story in Illinois Times. Filed FOIA request for file, brought case to attention of National Immigrant Justice Center. (Photo: Jhon Ocampo, Springfield, IL.)

UPDATE: Ocampo settles lawsuit, May, 2016.