Deported Man Was Actually U.S. Citizen
Duarnis Perez became an American citizen when
he was 15, but he didn’t find out until after he had been deported and
then jailed for trying to get back into the country.
He was facing his second deportation hearing
when he learned he was already a U.S. citizen. Still, federal
prosecutors fought to keep him in custody.
Last week, a federal judge scolded prosecutors for the mistake.
“In effect, the government is arguing that an
innocent man who was wrongly convicted should not be released from the
custody of the United States,” U.S. District Judge Lawrence Kahn wrote.
He ruled that Perez never should have been deported.
The case has gotten the attention of
immigration observers, who call it a striking example of the gaps in an
overworked immigration system.
Perez became a citizen when his mother was
naturalized in 1988 but apparently wasn’t aware of it. His lawyer, J.
Jeffrey Weisenfeld of New York, declined to release details other than
to say that Perez, now in his early 30s, remains in the United States.