A Florida man filed a lawsuit after he was nearly deported to Jamaica despite law enforcement having evidence of his citizenship.
Peter Sean Brown was born in Philadelphia and was unlawfully detained by the Monroe County Florida Sheriff’s Office. They threatened him with deportation to Jamaica and mocked his pleas for help. Now he’s teamed with the Southern Poverty Law Center and on Monday, he filed a lawsuit against Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay.
“There has to be a stop at some point,” Brown said, “before it becomes all of us.”
Per the SPLC Center:
The suit is the first to challenge a Florida sheriff for unlawfully detaining people at ICE’s request as part of a Basic Ordering Agreement (BOA), ICE’s latest scheme to use local law enforcement to find and deport immigrants.
It’s worth noting that 17 Florida counties reportedly receive $50 for every person they detain for ICE.
Per The Miami Herald:
Brown turned himself into the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office for a probation violation on April 5 after he tested positive for marijuana, according to The Miami Herald. He was charged with resisting an officer with violence in 2016 and sentenced to drug offender probation for two years and six months.
On April 26, a judge added 12 more months to his probation and ordered Brown’s release. Instead, he remained in custody and was later told he was on his way to an ICE detention center in Miami. His eventual destination was going to be Jamaica, a country he only visited once during a cruise.
Despite his efforts to repeatedly prove he’s an American citizen, the sheriff’s office insisted on holding him.
“It is not up to us to determine the validity of the ICE hold. That is between you, your attorney and ICE,” the office wrote in response to one of his requests.
The officers even made fun of his plight, according to the lawsuit filed by the ACLU.
“The Sheriff’s officers mocked him. After Mr. Brown told them he was born in Philadelphia, one of the guards sang him the theme song to the 1990s TV show Fresh Prince of Bel Air—which references being ‘born and raised’ in West Philadelphia. The guard then told Mr. Brown to stop ‘bothering’ him,” it read.
Officers also told Brown, “Yeah, whatever mon, everything’s gonna be alright,” in a Jamaican accent.
As a gay man, Brown was especially worried about Jamaica’s climate of homophobia.
“Mr. Brown was terrified. As a gay man, he feared that he would be subject to abuse in detention once he arrived in Jamaica,” said legal documents.
He was eventually taken into ICE custody and it wasn’t til Brown’s roommate faxed his birth certificate to ICE agents did they finally agree to review the document. Once they confirmed he was a citizen, he was released on April 27, days before his scheduled trip to Jamaica.
“I would never have expected in a million years that this would happen,” Brown said in a video from the ACLU. “With policies like this and people implementing them like that, it’s only going to continue. There has to be a stop to it at some point before it becomes all of us.”
The suit is asking for monetary compensation for damages and payment of Brown’s legal fees, the report states.