He Was Born In Grand Rapids And Fought In Afghanistan, But The Local Sheriff’s Office Still Turned Him Over To ICE


When Maria Gomez confirmed up late one December afternoon at a Grand Rapids, Michigan, jail to select up her son, an American-born Marine who served in Afghanistan, the deputies instructed her one thing that, frankly, made no sense.

“Your son was just despatched with immigration,” she recollects the deputies telling her. “He is of their palms.”

It should be a mistake, she instructed them. “My son doesn’t have something to do with immigration. He is a US citizen,” she stated. “They stated ‘we don’t know something about that. He’s of their palms now.’ It nearly gave me a coronary heart assault.”

When she returned to the jail’s car parking zone, she noticed him enter a white van and be pushed away.

Her son, Jilmar Ramos-Gomez, had served in Afghanistan as a lance corporal from 2011 to 2014 and returned to the United States affected by post-traumatic stress dysfunction (PTSD). He’s had episodes the place he’ll disappear for days, and nobody in his household will know the place he’s gone.

It occurred again Nov. 21, when Ramos-Gomez was arrested on suspicion of making an attempt to start out a fire in a stairwell at a Grand Rapids hospital and making an attempt to succeed in the facility’s helipad, in line with his attorneys and local legislation enforcement. Ramos-Gomez, 27, pleaded responsible to a trespassing cost and was ordered launched on Dec. 14 on his personal recognizance to await sentencing, his attorneys stated.

Instead, the Kent County Sheriff’s Office held him for greater than an hour so he could be picked up by one other county that transports and detains people for ICE.

Chuck DeWitt, undersheriff for the Kent County Sheriff’s Office, stated that his officers had adopted procedures and that every little thing concerning the case appeared routine. He regrets what occurred to Ramos-Gomez however says that it was ICE, not the sheriff’s division, that made the final word choice to determine him as a target.

“It sounds very harsh however there isn’t something we could’ve executed otherwise on this scenario that could have prevented that,” he stated. “It is regretful however under these circumstances, I don’t know the place we’d have prevented that.”

ICE put the blame squarely on Ramos-Gomez, saying that when ICE officers interviewed him in jail he claimed he was “a international nationwide illegally current within the US.” Because of that, ICE requested the sheriff’s division to carry him after he was launched from local custody, and the sheriff’s division complied.

The ACLU of Michigan, which has taken up Ramos-Gomez’s case and has known as for an investigation into the detention, stated ICE’s assertion opened up many questions.

“This reveals how flimsy the proof is that ICE depends on to deport individuals from this nation,” stated Miriam Aukerman, a senior legal professional with the ACLU of Michigan, who stated the group was investigating whether or not Ramos-Gomez had in reality instructed ICE he wasn’t a US citizen.

Ramos-Gomez had a US passport and identification that famous his veteran standing, Aukerman stated.

“It is appalling {that a} remark by a mentally unwell particular person is sufficient to get you deported. What sort of investigation is that?”

The ACLU legal professional additionally questioned why ICE had interviewed him in jail.

“If his identify is John Smith, ICE isn’t interviewing him,” she stated.

Because Ramos-Gomez had been transferred to ICE on a Friday, his household was unable to safe his launch till the next Monday, when his lawyer known as ICE officials.

“I don’t have phrases to say this as a result of I really feel like they don’t care,” Gomez instructed BuzzFeed News. “They don’t care that my son served this nation.”

Aukerman stated the incident mirrored a bigger problem with immigration enforcement.

“This is what immigration enforcement has come to on this nation. It is so indiscriminate that we take individuals who served our nation and attempt to deport them,” Aukerman stated. “This is a tragedy. He risked his life and psychological well being for our nation, got here again and didn’t get the providers he wants, and now ICE is making an attempt to deport him. It is outrageous and appalling.”

“His immigration legal professional stated to ICE: Here is his navy report, beginning certificates, and ICE was like: ‘Oops, we obtained a US citizen,’” she added. ICE officials stated that once they obtained the knowledge they licensed his launch, and no additional action will likely be taken.

The case highlights what advocates imagine is the problem with cooperation between some sheriff’s departments and ICE. When an individual is arrested, fingerprints are in contrast with prints in federal databases that alert immigration authorities if the individual is needed. It’s at this level that ICE officials will usually request a “detainer” to carry the person till their officers can present up and take them into custody.

While in some areas, “sanctuary” insurance policies restrict cooperation between local authorities and ICE, that’s not the case in Kent County. The sheriff’s division has an settlement with ICE to carry people for as much as three days and to be reimbursed for the additional detention.

The Michigan jail additionally permits ICE entry throughout the facility to interview inmates, like Ramos-Gomez, each time they’d like. In sanctuary areas, like California, inmates should signal forms consenting to an interview with ICE officials and are instructed that an legal professional could be current with them.

DeWitt stated that his workplace had requested ICE to evaluation its insurance policies so {that a} related scenario doesn’t occur.

DeWitt stated he nonetheless helps cooperation between federal and local legislation enforcement, saying such cooperation is critical to guard residents. But advocates see it otherwise, saying such cooperation truly chills belief between legislation enforcement and immigrant communities.

For her half, Ramos-Gomez’s mom, who got here to the nation from Guatemala, stated that she is not going to belief legislation enforcement any longer.

The case is indicative of the issues that may come up when such interactions are rampant, Aukerman stated.

“It’s horrible however it’s the predictable consequence of this blind willingness at hand individuals over to ICE with out trying,” she stated, noting that ICE makes use of “administrative” warrants and never warrants signed by judges to request and maintain people. “If ICE says ‘please, hand him over’ that’s not sufficient. That will not be what we ought to be doing.”

ICE has detained American residents prior to now, including a Queens man whose case was detailed by BuzzFeed News. Late final year, an American-born man sued ICE for detaining him.

“There’s generally complicated questions on citizenship, however on this case it’s 100% obvious. He was born in a US hospital,” Aukerman stated. “It displays an extremely sloppy strategy by ICE.”

The ACLU despatched a letter Wednesday to the Kent County Sheriff’s Office and the county Board of Commission demanding an investigation. DeWitt stated {that a} US passport was not listed as considered one of Ramos-Gomez’s possessions however that usually gadgets aren’t marked by deputies.

The county’s settlement with ICE is up in September, and Ramos-Gomez’s case will likely be an element within the decision-making on whether or not to proceed with it or not, DeWitt stated.

Meanwhile, Ramos-Gomez’s household is just blissful he’s home and never in ICE custody or deported to Guatemala, the place his household had initially come from. His mom stated she couldn’t sleep the weekend he was in ICE custody.

But when he was launched Dec. 17, she waited for him within the detention heart car parking zone. When he walked out of custody, they instantly hugged.

“I can’t imagine they did this to you, son,” she instructed him. “I’m sorry.”

“I do know,” he instructed her. “They didn’t imagine me.”



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