"Because of the way I look, I have Mexican features, they pretty much assumed that my papers were fake," Eduardo Caraballo commented after spending the weekend in jail, detained by federal immigration authorities in Chicago.
Caraballo was born an American citizen in Puerto Rico and moved to the mainland United States at eight months old. Last week, he was arrested in connection with a car robbery (he denies involvement and the case remains under investigation), but instead of being released on bail, like any American citizen is supposed to be, the Huffington Post reports that he was detained as an undocumented immigrant and threatened with deportation. Despite showing ID and even a birth certificate, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) apparently decided he "looked" Mexican and must be using fake papers. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) had to intervene on his behalf to get Caraballo released after three days in jail.Reference:: Sikh Philosophy Network http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/world/30716-american-born-citizen-wrongfully-detained-looking.html
Puerto Ricans are vulnerable to racial profiling due to Latino features and Spanish accents, combined with often being asked to provide green cards they don't have — because, you know, Puerto Rico is part of the United States and people born there are American citizens. Of additional concern, a law passed in December decided that, as of July 1st, Puerto Ricans who did not get a new birth certificate this year will find themselves with their old ones invalidated and without proof of citizenship, which could be a catastrophe for those who haven't heard they need new documentation. Caraballo faced detention and the threat of deportation even with valid documents: what will happen to other U.S. citizens after this change?
Rep. Gutierrez, also of Puerto Rican descent, hopes Caraballo's situation will call attention to the problem of racial profiling and wrongful detention in the immigration system. "We know of instances in which young people in his same situation are actually taken to the border and deported from the United States," Rep. Gutierrez points out.
Yes, you can get accidentally deported to Mexico as an American-born citizen who has never set foot in that country just because you "look" Mexican. ICE doesn't need to prove that you actually came from Mexico: they just drop you over the border if they decide you're an undocumented immigrant. Hundreds of American citizens have been wrongfully detained (and not just for a few days — try seven months) and others actually deported, leading to a growing number of lawsuits against the federal government in recent years.Reference:: Sikh Philosophy Network http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/showthread.php?t=30716
The serious problems within the federal immigration system of racial profiling and wrongful detention and deportation have been made worse by the 287(g) program in which local law enforcement can take on federal immigration roles, and now by the potential of Arizona's "papers, please" law for further abuse.
Being born with Latino features shouldn't make you a second-class citizen. Eduardo Caraballo spent three days in jail — a place nobody wants to be — for the "crime" of looking Mexican. We need to root racial profiling out of our immigration system and make sure we're protecting the constitutional rights of all Americans. NBC Chicago reports that Caraballo is considering taking legal action for wrongful detention. I hope he does sue, thus helping to expose the existence of unconstitutional racial profiling our immigration system.