The Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, which works on behalf of immigrants, sent out a press release today detailing an apparent mistake on the part of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. Apparently, some agents raided a home in Carbondale and tried to deport a U.S. citizen. Oops.
But wait, the ICE agents may have made a mistake, but that doesn't mean they were going to wallow in embarrassment. Nope, according to CIRC's account, the agents never even apologized and continued to harass the family for another half an hour.
Wait a second. This isn't supposed to happen in America, right? Well, as Arizona has made abundantly clear, threatening to deport U.S. citizens may actually be OK in certain circumstances. You know, so long as the U.S. citizen in question has brown skin.
CARBONDALE, CO - On July 13th 2010, over a dozen Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents mistakenly raided the home of Marco Guevara of Carbondale. Marco's stepmother Laurie Guevara-Stone is a native born US citizen and both he and his father, Anibal Guevara-Stone, have been US citizens for almost a decade.
At 6:00 am, ICE agents knocked on Marco's door and informed him that he had "deportable offenses" and that they were there to take him into custody. Despite Marco identifying himself as a US Citizen, the agents would not give him the opportunity to produce his US passport to verify his identity. When he turned to yell to his parents that agents were trying to take him away, he was forcibly removed from his home, shoved to the ground and handcuffed. Only once his parents were able to convince the agents to look at Marco's passport, was he released back into their custody.
The "deportable offense" that the agents were referring to, was Marco's arrest in 2008 on a drug charge. A crime he committed once he was already a citizen and for which he had already spent time in Garfield County Jail.
"My stepson has made some mistakes in his past, has hung out with the wrong crowd, and taken some bad turns. But he paid for them, and spent his time in jail where he found God. Ever since he came out of jail he has stayed away from drugs and alcohol, has gone to church every day, has worked a steady job, and has slowly been paying off his court fees." Said Laurie Guevara-Stone, Marco's stepmother.
Marco is originally from Ecuador and his father, Anibal Guevara-Stone, became a naturalized US citizen in 2003. Marco has lived in the Roaring Fork Valley since the age of 13 and when his father became a US citizen, and as a minor, he became a citizen by act of law. Anibal and his wife, Laurie Guevara-Stone, applied for citizenship for Marco and he was granted his US passport in 2003.
Having the passport did not immediately end the raid, as it should have since ICE has no authority over US citizens. Once the agents saw the US passport, they spent another half hour checking out Anibal Guevara-Stone's passport and naturalization papers and making phone calls. In a flagrant misstatement, they told the Guevara-Stones that just because Marco has a passport doesn't mean he's a US citizen. There has been no apology from ICE and calls for comment went unreturned.
This incident shines a light on the faulty databases and systems that ICE uses to identify immigrants. Recent reviews of the databases used by ICE showed an error rate between 5 -10%, unacceptable in most databases, but claimed as "normal" by ICE. Collaborative efforts between ICE and local police have also recently come under fire for destroying community policing efforts and being an opportunity to harass otherwise law abiding immigrants.
Laurie Guevara-Stone is still in shock over the raid: "My stepson, who has overcome so much suffering and adversity to become the polite, respectful, hardworking young man he is today; who has a steady job that he excels at; who is completely bilingual; who has a 3 year old son living in Denver that he loves dearly and sees whenever he can; who spends all his free time when he's not at church, at work, or with his son, reading the bible; and who by all legal definitions is a US citizen, is still being harassed by ICE. This is completely unjust."