Peter Sean Brown was detained by Florida authorities and flagged for deportation after a request from ICE. Brown was born in Philadelphia and a Florida Keys resident.
The nightmare began when he showed up at to turn himself in for a probation violation at a Florida sheriff’s office after testing positive for marijuana. He was told he would be detained and flagged for deportation to Jamaica, a place he had been one time in his life via a cruise. Maybe it was the marijuana violation that made authorities think he should be deported back to the Caribbean island nation, but verifying nationality and citizenship is a fairly easy process nowadays.
The Monroe County Sheriff’s Department, apparently, never attempted to check Brown’s birth records to see if they were making a mistake. Instead, he was mocked after he continuously tried to plead his case.
As he explained to the officers that he was born in Philadelphia, one guard had the audacity to rap the theme of the 1990s sitcom “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” where actor Will Smith raps about being “born and raised” in West Philadelphia. Another guard, in an en equally offensive gesture, talked to him in a Jamaican accent, calling him “mon.”
Brown spent a total of three weeks in jail in April before he was turned over to the Krome immigration detention center in Miami to start the deportation process.
Even that trip was plagued by disaster. He was shipped out to the detention center on a bus without food or water. Upon arriving at Krome, detainees sat and waited for two hours on the bus with no access to a restroom. One man defecated on himself and the smell forced the ICE agents to get off the transport vehicle. The detainees, however, were left on the bus.
When Brown was finally seen, ICE agents “agreed” to see his proof of citizenship. After realizing that he was indeed an American citizen, ICE quickly released him. Although, they provided no ride or fare to go home. His roommate’s daughter picked him up and took him back to the keys. No apology was offered.
Brown filed a lawsuit against the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department, according to a statement from the ACLU. The suit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, claims Brown’s Fourth Amendment rights were violated. The Fourth Amendment protects people from unreasonable search and seizure by the government.
“After confirming that Mr. Brown was a U.S. citizen, ICE hastily arranged for his release from Krome,” the suit said. “Before he left, they confiscated all the documents they had given him regarding his impending deportation.”
“The sheriff’s inmate file for Mr. Brown confirmed, in multiple places, that he was a U.S. citizen. The file lists his place of birth as “Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,” read another section of the suit.The ACLU had previously warned the law agency about illegally jailing immigrants.
Amien Kacou, staff attorney with the ACLU of Florida, said, “The sheriff ignored our warnings and doubled down by signing on early to ICE’s latest sham — the BOA detainer scheme. With this lawsuit, we reaffirm that, regardless of ICE’s empty promises, Florida sheriffs will continue to be held accountable for doing the agency’s dirty work.”
Brown’s lawyers said his detention caused him to suffer from depression and lose his job. The suit has asked that the court award Brown punitive monetary damages and attorney’s fees.
“It’s shocking and not right that somebody can lose their human rights and have all dignity stripped away simply because someone delivers a piece of paper or signs a form,” Brown said in a statement released by the ACLU.