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Decorated U.S. Military Veteran Faced Possibility of Deportation

Returning to civilian life after serving in our country’s armed forces can prove very emotionally taxing for our veterans. For veterans who have come face to face with combat or combat-like situations, relearning to live as a civilian and reacclimating to the lifestyle can be a true shock to the system. But nothing could have prepared one U.S. marine for what would happen to him after returning, after being overseas.

Veteran Arrested After Alleged PTSD Episode

Born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Jilmar Ramos-Gomez joined the U.S. Marines after high school graduation and served in Afghanistan from 2011 to 2014. He is a decorated veteran, having been honored with many awards, including the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism service medal, an Afghanistan campaign medal, and a combat action ribbon.

Despite being born in the U.S., Ramos-Gomez was not only arrested by immigration officers but also threatened with the possibility of deportation. While at a hospital he was arrested after evidently trespassing on a heliport and damaging a fire alarm. According to the Ramos-Gomez’ family, he has a severe case of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which often leaves him to wander somewhere without any memory of how he got there or what he’s been doing. Despite this, he pleaded guilty and was to be released on a personal bond, to be picked up by his mother, a Guatemalan immigrant.

Detained by ICE

However, Ramos-Gomez, 27, was not released. Instead, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents detained him. Although he showed them more than one form of identification – including his passport, which he had on him – they held him for over the weekend and threatened with deportation despite his persistent claims of citizenship.

Ramos-Gomez was released on bond, but ICE officials moved him from the County jail to an immigrant detention center in another County. It wasn’t until his mother contacted an attorney that he was eventually released.

Racial Profiling

This is just one example of how many ICE agents and county officials seem to have gone too far on the issue of immigration enforcement, racially profiling all Latinos. It still remains unclear as to why ICE believed that he was not a U.S. citizen. The situation clearly baffled and angered many. “It is appalling that ICE would be so sloppy and callous and careless that they would target a U.S. citizen, a combat veteran who served his country and try to deport him from the very country he is serving,” said Michigan ACLE senior attorney, Miriam Aukerman. “It’s absolutely outrageous.”

Not an Isolated Case

Despite county officials standing by ICE and claiming that they did just what they were told to do, immigrant advocates believe that the system is at its core unconstitutional and often abusive. Unfortunately, Ramos-Gomez’s story is not an isolated one. According to a report by the Los Angeles Times, the two groups most vulnerable to being mistakenly detained by ICE are U.S. citizens born outside of the U.S., and children of immigrants.

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