Davino Watson told the immigration officers that he was a U.S. citizen. He told jail officials that he was a U.S. citizen. He told a judge. He repeated it again and again.
There is no right to a court-appointed attorney in immigration court. Watson, who was 23 and didn’t have a high school diploma when he entered ICE custody, didn’t have a lawyer of his own. So he hand-wrote a letter to immigration officers, attaching his father’s naturalization certificate, and kept repeating his status to anyone who would listen.
Still, Immigration and Customs Enforcement kept Watson imprisoned as a deportable alien for nearly 3 1/2 years. Then it released Watson, who was from New York, in rural Alabama with no money and no explanation. Deportation proceedings continued for another year.
Watson was correct all along: He was a U.S. citizen.
But it gets worse. Watson sued, and was awarded $82,500. Then this happened:
On Monday, an appeals court ruled that Watson, now 32, is not eligible for any of that money — because while his case is “disturbing,” the statute of limitations actually expired while he was still in ICE custody without a lawyer.
This happened during the Bush and Obama years. ICE is already out of control, and has been for a long time. But Trump wants to make them even more mindlessly vicious, for no damn good reason.
We second these people:
— sean. (@SeanMcElwee) August 2, 2017
— Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans) August 2, 2017
— Eghosa Omoigui (@EghosaO) August 2, 2017
This has got to stop.