Austin, TX – According to immigration data reported in the Houston Chronicle, at least 1,714 people were targeted nationally for deportation despite presenting documents proving their U.S. citizenship to immigration judges. In the piece, reporter Lise Olsen notes that hundreds of people were detained for months because very few of them had access to attorneys as detained immigrants lack a right to appointed defense.
Per Olsen’s report, “The records were provided to the Houston Chronicle by the Deportation Research Clinic at Northwestern University, which obtained the data from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review.”
Mario Carrillo, America’s Voice Texas State Director, issued the following statement,
As Texas communities prepare to defend their residents against SB4, a racially discriminatory law that will target people of color in the state, it is safe to expect that many more U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents will be caught up in President Trump’s and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s ramped up mass deportation efforts.
SB4 will encourage local law enforcement officers across the state to ask about a person’s immigration status during any routine interaction, which will undoubtedly lead to discrimination against anyone who might have darker skin or an accent. These types of policies must be fought against and defeated in Texas and across the country.
Olsen’s piece is excerpted below and is available online here.
Emilio Blas Olivo, a 69-year-old Texan born in Weslaco, ended up in a deportation cell for three months after he returned home from a visit with relatives in Reynosa in the summer of 2014.
He presented both his birth certificate and a social security card to U.S. border officers but was detained anyway and then deported to Mexico.
In a lawsuit filed this year in the Southern District of Texas, Olivo claims immigration authorities lacked the right to arrest him and violated his rights by failing to give him due process after he repeatedly told them he was an American.
Olivo is not alone.
Jackie Stevens, a Northwestern University professor who runs the deportation clinic, has assisted lawyers researching the cases of more than 150 people with citizenship or citizenship claims who were forced to fight deportation in Texas and other states – including Lorenzo Palma, who was released from detention last year by a Houston-based immigration judge based on evidence Stevens helped gather about Palma’s U.S.-born grandfather.
Stevens said she believes that even more American citizens will be wrongfully arrested as the pace of detentions and deportations continues to increase under policies approved by President Donald Trump.
In an interview, Stevens said she believes the new immigration court data undercounts citizenship claims and represents a small sample of a much bigger problem.
Nationwide, Stevens has published estimates that as many as 3,000 to 4,000 of people with citizenship claims have been wrongfully targeted in U.S. deportation dragnets each year or about one percent of all deportations.