California immigrants accused of a crime may have to wait a lengthy period of time before receiving any legal assistance. Sometimes an immigrant can be deported before ever receiving the help they need. What should never happen, however, is a United States citizen being deported, or threatened with deportation, due to a mistake on the part of the United States government in maintaining proper record of that citizen’s immigration status.
Recently a United States citizen was jailed after a methamphetamine charge. She was detained for almost seven months and threatened with deportation, even though she was granted citizenship at the age of 13. Born to a native-born United States citizen and Filipino mother, the girl moved to the United States when she was 11. Her mother had been naturalized prior to that.
Throughout her detainment, the woman insisted to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency that her file had all the proper documentation that would prove her legal status as a citizen. In fact, she appealed for assistance 20 times. Just nine days after her release from prison, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services verified that in fact, she had been granted citizenship 18 years earlier. Perhaps in retaliation for the complaint she filed against ICE, ICE issued a notice that it plans on canceling her citizenship. The woman has filed a suit against the United States government, claiming false imprisonment and negligence, among other things.
This situation is particularly alarming given the fact that the woman in question was in fact a citizen of the United States and all the proper paperwork was in order. The citizenship and naturalization process is already an often lengthy and sometimes frustrating process. It can be complicated and confusing. There are many steps in the immigration process and missing one can mean the difference between becoming a permanent resident and being forced to wait an even longer period of time. Representation in California and elsewhere is a right for all those seeking to become a citizen in this country.
Source: The Final Call, U.S. citizen sues government after being detained by immigration officials for 7 months, No author, Nov. 4, 2013