ICE tried deporting a US-born Latino veteran. Now, the city is paying him $190,000
Grand Rapids will pay a $190,000 settlement to a Latino American war veteran who was wrongfully detained by federal immigration officials.
The City Commission unanimously approved the payment to Jilmar Ramos-Gomez on Tuesday to resolve a Michigan Department of Civil Rights complaint.
Ramos-Gomez was detained last December by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials for deportation after he was arrested on trespassing charges, said immigration attorneys. ICE and county officials had confused Ramos-Gomez, 27, with being an immigrant even though he had his U.S. passport and other ID on him at the time of his arrest.
He was held for three days and set to be deported, until his mother contacted an attorney to rescue him from jail.
The detention outraged his family and civil rights attorneys who say it’s an example of how immigration and county officials have become overzealous in immigration enforcement. They also say it’s an example of racial profiling of Latinos by immigration officials, and police.
“I don’t feel good about what they did to my son,” Maria Gomez-Velaquez, his mother, told the Detroit Free Press during a phone interview. “They were not listening to my son even though he had ID on him. It’s not right. My son is from here, he’s born here, a United States citizen. He served in the Marines, the military, but they don’t care what my son did for his country.”
While the mother of Gomez-Ramos is an immigrant from Guatemala, it’s unclear what country ICE wanted to deport Ramos-Gomez to.
Police Capt. Curtis VanderKooi served a 20-hour, unpaid suspension for violating department policy after he alerted ICE about Ramos-Gomez’ arrest.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan and Michigan Immigrant Rights Center filed the complaint on Ramos-Gomez’s behalf in April, saying VanderKooi discriminated against him based on his race, violating the state’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act.
Born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Ramos-Gomez served in Afghanistan from 2011 to 2014 as a tank crewman and lance corporal. He was awarded a global war on terrorism service medal, national defense service medal, an Afghanistan campaign medal, and a combat action ribbon, among other awards, said the ACLU.
Contributing: Niraj Warikoo, Detroit Free Press.
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