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February 25, 2011

This could happen to you

Citizen wrongly held as illegal immigrant gets $400,000

"A U.S. Army veteran and U.S. citizen, who was detained for seven months at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma as immigration officials prepared to deport him to Belize, has been awarded $400,000 — and granted a rare apology. Additionally, as a result, immigration officials have changed the way they handle cases when someone claims U.S. citizenship.

By Lornet Turnbull

Seattle Times staff reporter
An American citizen and U.S. Army veteran, who was detained for seven months at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma as immigration officials prepared to deport him to Belize, has been awarded $400,000 — and granted a rare apology.

Rennison Castillo's settlement with the Department of Homeland Security comes more than five years after he was detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) despite his repeated protests that he was a naturalized U.S. citizen.

As a result of Castillo's case, ICE instituted changes in the way it handles claims of citizenship by people in its custody.

"ICE officers did not listen to me when I told them repeatedly that I was a U.S. citizen and had served in the Army at Fort Lewis," Castillo, 33, said in a statement. "They were disrespectful and told me that I would say anything to get out of detention.

"It was a nightmare."

According to his attorneys, Castillo, of Lakewood, first came to the U.S. when he was six, enlisting in the Army in 1996. He became a naturalized citizen during the seven years he served, before being honorably discharged in 2003.

Two years later, Castillo was jailed for violating a protection order and harassment. Before being released he was questioned by an immigration officer who asked about his immigration status.

Despite Castillo's claims of U.S. citizenship, ICE took him into custody upon his release and began the process to deport him...".

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2014325563_detained25m.html

Posted by VisaLawyer at February 25, 2011 07:26 AM

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