May 12, 2018
After Devino Watson finished serving a prison sentence in New York for selling cocaine, agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement took him into custody, where he remained for 3 1/2 years.
Just one problem: Watson is an American citizen. ICE had no authority to take him into custody in the first place.
And he’s not alone. According to this story in the Los Angeles Times, since 2012, ICE has released more than 1,480 people from custody after discovering that they were U.S. citizens.
One of them was Sergey Mayorov. After pleading guilty to a residential burglary in Illinois in 2010, Mayarov, a U.S. citizen, received a four-year prison term, but was placed in that state’s “impact incarceration” program, an alternative sentencing program in which individuals serve 120 days in “boot camp” and, upon successful completion of the program, they are released from custody without having to serve a custodial prison sentence. Halfway through Mayorov’s time in boot camp, however, ICE issued an immigration detainer against him. Illinois law prohibited him from participating in the boot camp while the detainer was in effect, so he was transferred to a state prison, where he remained for about ten months before ICE finally discovered its mistake and the detainer was cancelled. He was returned to the boot camp, which he successfully completed.