Florida resident Peter Sean Brown is suing the Monroe County Sherriff’s office after he was unlawfully detained for weeks and nearly deported to Jamaica. Brown’s attorneys say that Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents confused the U.S. citizen with another individual, and now he is seeking restitution for the traumatizing experience, according to Business Insider.
Peter Brown was born in Philadephia and was raised in New Jersey. He moved to the Florida Keys a few years ago. After a run-in with police at a bar, Brown pleaded guilty to resisting arrest. Last spring, he violated his parole from that charge when he tested positive for marijuana, and he turned himself in to the Monroe County Sherriff.
That’s where things took a shocking turn. Brown was told that he was being held in prison on a request from ICE and later told that he was flagged for deportation to Jamaica – a country he had only been to once on a cruise.
“I thought it was a joke honestly at first or just some odd fluke because it made no sense,” he told NPR.
Brown says he repeatedly told officers that there had been a mistake and that he was a citizen of the United States, but no one would take his assertions seriously. He even offered to show proof of his citizenship but was rebuffed.
“I was told that this is between ICE and your attorneys,” he says.
The ACLU got wind of the situation and helped Brown, along with along with the Southern Poverty Law Center and Los Angeles-based law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, to file a lawsuit against the Monroe County Sherriff’s Office, saying that the man suffered serious trauma at the hands of officers.
“Nobody should have to endure what he endured,” the lawsuit says. “He was kept in jail – away from his family, friends, and work- solely to facilitate his illegal deportation from the United States. The Sheriff’s Office ignored his pleas for weeks, mocked him, and led him to believe that he would soon find himself in a Jamaican prison. He suffered severe anxiety, fear, and trauma in the process.”
ICE mistook Peter Brown's identity and wanted to deport him to Jamaica — and this Florida sheriff illegally jailed him to help ICE out.— ACLU (@ACLU) December 4, 2018
Peter repeatedly told the jail that he's a US citizen, but no one listened. Now he's suing. pic.twitter.com/IixjZviWUi
The Sheriff’s office has says that its hands are tied when it comes to ICE detainees, and Sheriff Ramsay said that he doesn’t have the legal authority to release such individuals.
Brown is one of 250 U.S.-born individuals incorrectly held by ICE over a span of six years. One American was held for 1,273 days – nearly four years.
Brown’s case is expected to be watched closely as President Donald Trump’s immigration policies have garnered increasingly fierce criticism in recent months.