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Trump and Miller Plan Will Deport U.S. Citizens If Recent History Is A Guide

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U.S. citizenship will be no guarantee of protection for many people of color if indicted former President Donald Trump and white nationalist aide Stephen Miller return to the White House in January 2025 to carry out their mass-purging of millions of workers and families from their homes, jobs, and neighborhoods. 

This is not hyperbole. Just look at the explosive watchdog report that revealed the deportation of dozens of U.S. citizens and the illegal detention of hundreds of others.

In 2021, the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office released a shocking report detailing how federal immigration officials had deported as many as 70 American citizens during the preceding five years, and detained nearly 700 others. “They were deported even though U.S. citizens cannot be charged with violations of civil immigration law,” Immigration Impact noted. And because of ICE’s known aversion to record-keeping, there were likely others from that period that we don’t know about.

Below are just a few documented instances. In all three cases, these Americans were targeted and unlawfully arrested, detained for weeks at a time, and ignored as they pleaded for officials to believe that they were born in the United States.

Peter Sean Brown was born in Philadelphia and had been living in Florida for a decade when the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office collaborated with ICE to nearly deport him to Jamaica in 2018. “He knew almost nothing about Jamaica, having only visited the country once on a cruise,” the American Civil Liberties Union said. Brown has fallen onto the sheriff’s office radar following a cannabis violation. But the low-level offense would nearly turn his world upside down, after ICE issued a non-judicial warrant demanding police hold him so it could deport him to Jamaica. However, despite Brown’s pleading that he was a U.S. citizen – and the jail’s own records listing him as an American, the ACLU said – he was ignored.

“Many officers even mocked him, telling him in a Jamaican accent that everything was ‘gonna be alright,’” the ACLU said. “Officers sang him the theme song to the TV show the Fresh Prince of Bel Air—’West Philadelphia born and raised’—after he repeatedly told them he was from Philadelphia and had no ties to Jamaica.”

Brown remained in custody by the sheriff’s office for weeks before ICE came for him and transferred him to Miami, where he was just days from deportation to a nation that wasn’t his own before ICE finally agreed to look at his birth certificate. They, at last, let him go but left him stranded hours away from Key West. He recently sued the sheriff’s department for its part in his nightmare. “It was a very powerless situation,” Brown said. “As a citizen, you don’t think it is really possible, because that’s everything against what we are raised to believe that our country stands for.”


Jilmar Ramos-Gomez was born in the United States and served his country as a Marine when he was hospitalized due to a PTSD-related crisis in 2018. Unfortunately, he was arrested during that hospitalization, after damaging a fire alarm and climbing to the roof of the building. This incident made the news in Michigan, and it caught the eye of a local Grand Rapids Police Department officer who also collaborated with ICE as a liaison. Officer Curt VanderKooi, going off nothing more than Ramos-Gomez’s Spanish-sounding name and booking photo, asked ICE to “please check his status,” according to court documents. “VanderKooi did not consult with anyone at GRPD regarding the status of the investigation before contacting ICE; he did so solely based on Plaintiff’s race and ethnicity,” the filing continued.

Ramos-Gomez, who served his country in Afghanistan, should have been receiving the treatment he needed and deserved as a veteran suffering from combat-related PTSD. He instead spent three days in ICE custody despite carrying a number of documents that attested to citizenship. It was all ignored. A top ICE official insisted in an email that Ramos-Gomez was “a foreign national illegally in the U.S.”

“The emails and documents released by the ACLU also show that Ramos-Gomez had his passport in his backpack when he was arrested,” Michigan Public reported in 2019. “The passport was noted in GRPD’s report from the initial arrest. That report was forwarded to the ICE officers who were asked to check his immigration status. But the ICE officer who spoke to Ramos-Gomez apparently never looked into the passport.”

“I almost had a heart attack when I heard that my son was in immigration’s hands,” his mother, Maria Gomez, said following his release. “They don’t care what he did for his country. That makes me mad.”

Francisco Erwin Galicia was born in Dallas and was traveling to a soccer scouting event when he was questioned by Border Patrol at a checkpoint and then detained by ICE for nearly a month in 2019. Despite his attorney meeting with border officers in person to show them Galicia’s birth certificate, they refused to release the then-18-year-old, eventually transferring him to ICE custody. “I presented them with his original birth certificate and other documents and they ignored them. So now I’ve faxed over all the documents to the ICE agent handling the case,” Galan told The Dallas Morning News at the time. “He’s going on a full month of being wrongfully detained. He’s a U.S. citizen and he needs to be released now.”

Officials had doubted his documents because when they checked his fingerprints, they saw that his mother had “solicited a visitors visa for Francisco when he was a minor and falsely claimed that he was born in Mexico,” Dallas News later reported. That, however, didn’t change the fact that he was born in the United States, did nothing to merit his arrest and detention by immigration officials, and remained detained even after officials saw his documentation with their own eyes.

Following widespread public backlash (none of it, however, from Galicia’s senators, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz), Galicia was released to his family. Dallas News reported that his first words to his mom following his release from ICE custody were, “Mommy, they let me go. I’m free.”

Our history should already be a warning. Under the Eisenhower-era “Operation Wetback” – a mass deportation plan repeatedly praised by Trump despite its racist name – “hundreds of agents were deployed to locate and deport anyone suspected of being in the United States illegally — sometimes mistakenly targeting American citizens, according to historians,” The Washington Post reported in February. “People were transported into Mexico ‘like cows’ in trucks or on boats that a congressional investigation likened to an ‘eighteenth century slave ship,’ Columbia University historian Mae Ngai detailed in ‘Impossible Subjects.’”

Some would perhaps describe the agents involved in the more recent incidents as rogue officials or bad apples who blatantly ignored basic facts and Americans’ constitutional rights. But under a potential second Trump term, the bad apples would be in charge, as recently detailed by David Leopold, America’s Voice legal advisor and former American Immigration Lawyers Association president.

“As bad as things were during Trump’s chaotic first term, there were public servants in the federal (and state) agencies who had the moral courage to thwart some of his dangerously extremist plans. But ‘disloyal’ public servants will be removed and replaced with Trump sycophants on Day 1,” he wrote. “It’s not difficult to imagine immigration enforcement agents, working in tandem with their red-state (think Texas) counterparts, deporting people (including U.S. citizens caught in the chaos) across the border to Mexico without so much as a thought about their due process rights.”

In his recent Substack piece, journalist and broadcaster Michelangelo Signorile noted that Florida Senator Marco Rubio – a onetime GOP champion of immigration reform – not only endorsed the mass-purging of all 11 million undocumented in the U.S., “he upped it to 30 million people.” Rubio might insist that’s a more accurate number of undocumented people in the U.S. (it’s not). To others who have watched Rubio over the years, it sounds like Rubio knows that non-citizens, including in Miami and across Florida, will be swept up in these raids – or doesn’t care. Because what’s important to him is his lust for power and Trump’s approval, so he may be totally fine with it.

We all should get crystal clear that Trump and Miller are campaigning on a plan to have military humvees rolling through the streets of Philadelphia, Miami, Dallas, and every other U.S. city looking for those they think don’t belong. They promise to remake what an American looks like. It’s an ugly promise and one we cannot ignore if we are to ensure it never comes true.  

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