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U.S. citizenship doesn't stop deportation threat

Florida immigrants who believe that U.S. citizenship will protect them from deportation threats need to read a recent story in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The story tells the story of an immigrant from Jamaica who is now a U.S. citizen. Despite this, federal immigration agents arrested the man and sought to initiate a deportation proceeding.

The man spent 43 days in custody before an immigration judge ordered his case closed after government attorneys finally determined that the man was indeed a U.S. citizen.

Not surprisingly, the man has filed a lawsuit in federal court. He is seeking more than $1 million in damages for false arrest and malicious prosecution.

Legal experts interviewed by the Star Tribune say that the man's case is a good example of what can happen when federal authorities become overly zealous in seeking to deport immigrants. In the rush to judgment, these experts say, innocent people can find themselves caught in a legal trap, even if they are U.S. citizens.

The story is an important one for current times as states throughout the nation are enacting tougher immigration laws. But often, these laws come with unintended consequences. And many legal immigrants say that these tougher laws single them out for suspicion, even if they follow all the immigration rules when coming to this country.

The immigration debate is unlikely to be resolved any time soon. Immigration issues bring up heated emotions, especially in these trying economic times when jobs are so scarce. But it's important to remember that in enforcing immigration laws, authorities must refrain from rushing to judgments that could ensnare legal immigrants.

Source: Star Tribune, "U.S. citizenship no defense against deportation threat," Paul McEnroe, Nov. 27, 2011

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